What is he on about now, you ask? Well, put simply, the healing power of music… The Aurora Orchestra, playing Beethoven, Bruch – solo violin Nicola Benedetti – and Berlioz, all conducted by Nicholas Collon.
I experienced a profound and healing catharsis from this concert at Snape on Thursday night. The very first chord of Beethoven’s Creatures of Prometheus started it. My wife glanced at me disapprovingly thinking I was laughing at something. I was actually trying to suppress a violent emotional reaction; a feeling of coming safely home after a long and distressing period away.
The effect continued through the Bruch violin concerto, superbly played by a very glamorous Nicola Benedetti in a long orange dress. But the climax – in all senses of the word – was Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique.
The Aurora Orchestra specialise in playing pieces from memory, and this they did with the Berlioz. Most of the musicians, with the exception of the cellos, double-basses, harps, and tubas, were able to stand, and in standing could better express themselves in moving as the music took them. The whole process was wonderfully visual; theatrical almost. This was heightened by the two harps being brought forward during the second movement and placed either side of the conductor’s podium. During the third movement, the four bassoons occupied the same position, with two military looking side drums either side of the stage for the subsequent ‘March to the Scaffold’.
Other details entertained as the music progressed. One of the lady violinists, also very glamorous, was wearing (as I learned later) Christian Louboutin shoes – with bright red soles and very high heels (at £400 a pop). I noticed with amusement, that she surreptitiously removed them as the harps were being brought forward, playing the rest of the piece in bare feet … One of the cellists was enjoying the music so much that he had a broad grin on his face for much of the time. The conductor, with long wavy hair, bounced and bobbed, and the the principal clarinettist really jazzed up his solo in the last movement. And they were all so young … in contradistinction with the audience, overwhelmingly of the ‘third age’.
It really was a ‘fantastique’ climax to the concert. As the applause died down, the various members of the orchestra hugged each other in the joy of having produced such a truly wonderful and uplifting performance. And I was moved.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs