Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Northampton Symphony Orchestra concert

9 November 2010

When I did A-level music, one of the set works was Richard Strauss’ ‘Four Last Songs’: I can remember my music teacher worrying about the decision of the exam board to expose emotional, exam-stressed, teenagers to this melancholy reflection on morbidity. He needn’t have worried on my account: I am immensely grateful for this early discovery of Strauss’ masterpiece, which is now one of my favourite pieces of music and which seems to grow more perfect each time you hear it. It’s achingly sad: I will long remember watching the broadcast of this year’s BBC Proms performance by Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, which ended with the Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila, staring forward, immovably, into space after singing her last note, her eyes filling with tears. I was not the only member of the Northampton Symphony Orchestra welling up during our performance of the ‘Four Last Songs’ in Northampton on Saturday. Young, local singer, Katherine Crompton, who is currently studying for a Performance Masters at the Royal College of Music, gave a beautiful performance. And it was a huge pleasure to welcome back our principal horn player, David Lack, whose seat I have been keeping warm during his absence through illness. It was wonderful to be able to leave the nerve-racking horn solo at the end of the second song, ‘September’, to Dave who played it exquisitely in his first appearance with the orchestra for 18 months. Not that my nerves were completely off the hook as I took the horn solo at the end of the first movement of Brahms’ ‘Symphony No. 2’ – one of those moments that, as a player, is both enjoyable but also a great relief when it’s over! The second symphony is a cheerful, Beethovenian work which I hadn’t played before. We opened with a powerful performance of Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg Overture’. It feels like the NSO is really developing under the baton of Alexander Walker: it was a great concert.

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At 6:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robin, I thought the concert was extraordinary, but you have captured the mood perfectly. I don't know how you do it! The only thing you don't say is how good that solo was in the Brahms, and what a great job you've done over the last year and a half. Thanks.


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