Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

14 November 2007

For many people the opening of Grieg’s Piano Concerto conjures up images of Eric Morecambe and ‘André Preview’ but it always takes me back to the Concert Hall at the Royal Northern College of Music in 1983. I had recently become the principal horn player in the Didsbury Symphony Orchestra and we were playing the Grieg concerto with Peter Donohoe. There are several exposed horn solos in the piece and I was incredibly nervous. More than 20 years later, when I hear the passages of music leading up to one of those solos – even listening to the radio – I still get a shiver down the spine! Peter Donohoe gave an amazing performance – playing extremely fast and incredibly flamboyantly. At the end of the first movement there was rapturous applause – a really exciting moment. Some people frown on applause between movements but when it is a spontaneous expression of delight (rather than a polite sense of duty), as a performer, it is immensely satisfying. At the end of the concerto Peter Donohoe treated the audience to several encores and it gradually began to dawn on me that many people had come to hear him rather than us! Amongst all the orchestral concerts I have played in over the years it still stands out as a highlight. Last Saturday we tackled the Grieg Piano Concerto with the Northampton Symphony Orchestra accompanying Lucy Parham. In contrast to the showmanship of Peter Donohoe, Lucy gave a beautiful, delicate performance, emphasising what a wonderful piece of music it is. Coupling the Grieg with Dvorak’s lovely seventh symphony created a gentle, romantic programme which drew a polished performance from the orchestra. And this time I was not playing the first horn part so I could relax and enjoy David Lack’s excellent solos.

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