A last-minute check before leaving the office revealed a change. It's not especially unusual for singers to drop out and be replaced; but the violinist Anthony Marwood was ill and not only the artist but also the violin concerto was to be replaced. Still, it's not every day you get to see a concerto for classical accordion.
The queue was short and I was fortunate enough to be on the rail; as I was heading to Reading I wondered if I had a sore throat and this developed as the evening wore on, so some support was quite welcome. The first piece in the concert, Ivor Gurney's War Elegy, was a sensitive piece dating from around 1920. The programme notes suggested influences of Elgar and Mahler; I also thought there was Brahms in there, but it also had originality.
Trying to match up with the original programme, the concerto was another one by Sally Beamish, The Singing, taking inspiration from the Highland Clearances. The programme notes for this piece were in an insert, so it must have been very much a last minute change. I imagine the soloist, James Crabb, probably knows the work well, but the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins also handled the new programme well. The work was often perhaps more striking than appealing, although some sections were quite melodic. I also rather liked the effect of drawing air through the accordion without playing notes - when combined with the same in the horn section and some percussion, there truly was a depiction of windswept nature. Crabb also gave a delightful encore of Rameau's Conversation of the Muses.
The second half of the concert was Walton's Symphony No. 1. I quite like this piece although I wouldn't say I know it well. I was fading a bit at times and as is sometimes the case, on the rail you get more of the cello section and less of the rest of the orchestra, but I thought it was a fair performance, and it seemed to go down well.