04 July 2011

Tabula Rasa

The Morris Marina, of course, holds a particular place in the affection of of all English intellectual property lawyers of a certain age, because of its key role in BL v Armstrong. I haven't seen one on the road for years: but on Saturday evening I was stuck behind three on the way to Cheltenham, where I was uplifted by the oeverture to Die Meistersinger, enchanted by Amanda Roocroft's rendition of Four Last Songs and stimulated by Brahms 4 - all played by the LPO under Vladimir Jurowski, who from where I was sitting hardly seemed to have to raise a finger to get what he wanted out of the large band. Someone told me at the interval that Strauss had been present at a rehearsal for one of his operas, with singers competing against a typically huge orchestra. "Louder!" he insisted of the orchestra. "I can still hear the singers!" Amanda Roocroft (in a spectacular velvet dress) had a hard time in the first two songs, but made herself heard just as much as was needed, and in the second two the singer has an easier time. Gerald, in the next seat to me, dozed off appropriately in Beim Schlafengehen.

I was back in Cheltenham the following evening for some Bliss, something that never goes amiss of course - missing the screening of the film of Checkmate, unfortunately, but hearing an interesting talk by Terry Barfoot about the man and then a concert including the Music for Strings played by the Festival Academy - who, Meurig had told us the previous evening, had thoroughly enjoyed themselves rehearsing it. Their enjoyment showed. They were joined by pianist James Rhodes in a Bach concerto, which itself was preceded by a Richard Rodney Bennett piece I hadn't heard of before but which showed very nicely how versatile a composer he is. The second half was taken up with Tabula Rasa, after which I was pleased I had a flask of strong black coffee in the car to get me home. Hypnotic.

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