Monday, September 30, 2013

Beethoven, aka London trip #3, aka utterly sublime

Current work: working on M&B #59 (Rom – Mediterranean prince) and two or three other projects
Listening to: Kathryn William, Crown Electric (excellent - and today is release day so I'm so glad it arrived this morning!)
Reading: next on TBR
Gym: 121 (weights and cardio intervals), with zumba and jazz tonight

Seeing a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth was joint top of my secret bucket list (the other is seeing the Northern Lights, but that’s outside my budget for the time being). So when I saw this weekend’s performance advertised, just before Christmas, I booked tickets. (Best available. Because if you’re going to do it, really enjoy it.)

So I was a bit overexcited about it. And the nearer the time of the performance got, the fizzier I was getting.

Kensington Tube. So pretty.

Seeing the Royal Albert Hall for the first time (kind of like seeing the Pantheon for the first time…).

Seeing the Albert Memorial for the first time.

Going to Café Consort for dinner (the décor kind of reminded me of a music score).

Oh, yes – dinner. Very nice. Hake with a pesto crust, cream sauce, gnocchi and spinach.

And then polenta cake with rhubarb and clotted cream.

And it was my first ever performance of my favourite piece of music in the world, so I had a glass of champagne as well. Definitely something worth celebrating. (I don’t drink champagne very often!)

This was the door to our box. (I was very, very, very excited by this point.)

This is the ceiling in the Royal Albert Hall.

And this was our view! (On the left, you can see the tiers of boxes - we were on the bottom tier.)

The Emperor piano concerto was very good. (If you’ve ever wondered how a grand piano is moved off the stage, they wrap it up, take the legs off, turn it on its side and put it onto a trolley.)

And then it was the symphony. From the very first note, I was blown away. I know the music very well, but seeing a live performance (not just on the TV) adds an extra dimension. Sharing it with what looked like about four or five thousand people (it was pretty much sold out), all of whom clearly loved it as much as I did because there were quite a lot of people conducting. Very discreetly, with a hand an inch above the knee (I’d been pre-warned by youngest not to embarrass her godmother by conducting, LOL – honey, your godmother has been my best friend for nearly 30 years and she was expecting it).

I particularly love the second movement. But the fourth, when you get all the little teasing trails of themes from the first three, and then you get those first sublime notes of the Ode to Joy… I was moved to tears.

And then the choir comes in. Utterly, utterly sublime.

Now, I know Beethoven was deaf by this point and couldn’t hear the audience’s reaction – apparently he had to be turned round to see them going wild – but surely as a composer he could hear it in his head, and knew how perfect it was. Surely he had to know that no other piece of music could ever be written to touch this. I really hope he knew. Because the only word to describe it is ‘sublime’. I’m so glad I went.

(I will do another post about the Pompeii exhibition, but I thought Beethoven deserved his own.)


Mary Preston said...

I would have enjoyed this immensely!!

Mia said...

Awesome photos! Imagine how Beethoven and other composers of his time would feel if they realised their compositions would still be listened to and revered in centuries to follow, and all over the world too.

Sharon Kendrick said...

Lovely blog.

Interestingly, one of my ambitions is also to see the Northern Lights (and have just entered a competition to do just that!).

But I'd have to take issue with you on the most perfect piece of music - for me it has to be the Brahms German Requiem. Sublime...