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Shostakovich Weekend - The Titfield Thunderbolt
Heisenberg might have stayed here
Shostakovich Weekend
A busy day yesterday, heading first to the Cadogan Hall for a ticket for the Saturday matinee concert, then to the Tate for the Constable exhibition. The Tate can be a bit pricey, at £10 entry, but it was clear that the market is prepared to pay this rate, as the queue stalled at the exhibition entrance. I find it's often the case that the first room in an exhibition is really busy, but then the crowds somehow dissipate; however on this occasion, the masses really were there end-to-end. It was interesting to see small and full-size sketches alongside the final works. Sometimes the sketches had more exciting and experimental lighting effects, perhaps showing Constable's conservatism in the final paintings. A numer of Constable's works apparently failed to sell at exhibition in London, but were greatly admired in Paris: somehow I suspect the appreciation is greater at home these days.
The afternoon prom was a concert titled Shostakovich's Music for Film and Stage. Curiously then, it started with Jazz Suite No. 1, which is neither; but it is great light music. In particular, the final movement, Foxtrot (Blues), which is in fact more of a March, always conjures to my mind Poirot - it's almost as if Christopher Gunning had this piece in mind when he wrote the TV theme music. I was amazed to read that this was a Proms premiere; I suppose, though, that it is written for a rather curious ensemble, light on strings, heavy on saxophones, banjo and Hawaiian guitar. The rest of the concert was new music to me, and some numbers, such as New Babylon and The Bedbug were accompanied by silent films or stills projected in the Cadogan Hall. The final work, The Tale of the Silly Little Mouse, was a fairy-tale combination of The Cunning Little Vixen and Old MacDonald: a colour animation with soloists singing roles such as Mrs Mouse, Dog, Pig and Cat.
The main evening Prom was the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra and Chorus. Joining the queue late did not lessen the anthropological experience: as we approached the security check, one person suggested "profiling" the audience. I retorted that this could lead to strange results indeed! The concert began with only the second Proms performance of Lyadov's From the Apocalypse, the first being in 1914. It's an odd work, especially in its quiescent timpani ending, and though it wasn't unpleasant I can see why it's not particularly popular. Vadim Repin was excellent as the soloist in Sibelius' Violin Concerto. Some tourists (by which I mean visitors to classical music, rather than visitors to London) applauded at the end of the first movement. When they applauded again at the end of the second - which is meant to flow straight into the third without pause - the music-lovers had had enough, and a cry of "shh!" echoed round the Hall. Their behaviour was moderated for the second half, Shostakovich's dark Symphony No. 13 (Babi Yar). It's not a piece I am especially familiar with, but it seemed to work well enough. Despite an early finish, the Circle Line was playing up as I arrived at South Kensington which somewhat delayed my return home, tired but satisfied at a full day.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
obnoxious_muso From: obnoxious_muso Date: August 20th, 2006 09:42 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not sure which I hate more - people clapping in between movements, or the music snobs who complain about it. Probably the latter, since I'm one of them.
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 21st, 2006 08:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't mind it so much in a more classical work - say, after the first movement of a Beethoven Piano Concerto, with a cadenza. Last year I went to Handel's Giulio Cæsare and it seemed to be the done thing to applaud the end of every aria. But in later works, and particularly where the music flows straight through, it's a no-no.
rosamicula From: rosamicula Date: August 20th, 2006 10:19 am (UTC) (Link)
If you want to go to stuff at the Tates do let me know in advance. I can get free tickets as part of my membership. Kandisnsky was brilliant..
qatsi From: qatsi Date: August 21st, 2006 07:27 am (UTC) (Link)
As kharin and you were at Tate Modern while I was at Tate Britain, that would require cloning you, which I'm not sure is a good idea. Thanks for the offer, though, I shall bear it in mind for future.
rosamicula From: rosamicula Date: August 21st, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Though I love the idea of being cloned - it isn't necessary as I can simply pick up a ticket in advance and post it to you.

I was amused by you two being at such different Tate exhibitions. I hadd something of the 'you ay potayto, I say potartos' about it.
5 comments or Leave a comment