‘I have arrived in Copenhagen airport’ but I am bored on the plane journey so much of this is pre-written up. I am a zombie as I type. I crave sleep like zombies crave human flesh. I’ve only slept around 6 hours within what feels like 2 days, but I am resisting the temptation to caffeine. Despite my 100% effort to sleep on my 7 hour flight to London, my fortune only gave me TWO which was rather unfortunate. This was my rough day:
10am – Arrived in London
1.45pm – Lunch
4-6pm – A MUCH NEEDED POWER NAP
7.30-10.30pm – BBC Prom
(walk back to hotel)
11.30pm-1am – packing
1.30am-3.30am – Goodnight
3.30am – get up for flight
I am clearly not in a great mood, so I am going to write about the Prom I saw because it was fabulous and I deserve some comfort reminiscing from all this hyperactivity. Anything with Prokofiev in the programme is just fine for me. Here are the performance details of last night:
Symphony No. 1 in D major, ‘Classical’ (15 mins)
L’arbre des songes (25 mins)
Slava’s Fanfare (4 mins)
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major (43 mins)
- Leonidas Kavakos violin
- London Symphony Orchestra
- Valery Gergiev
My Mum doesn’t usually get picky when booking tickets, especially if it’s in the BBC Prom season because you know that they’re all going to be amazing! She’ll obviously be drawn towards names of exceptional performers we’ve seen before, but she rarely looks up on soloists or conductors. I think it’s good that way because you can discover new styles of music. I didn’t even know what the programme was for tonight! I only realised it was Valery Gergiev conducting when he came onto the stage so I was pleasantly surprised and in for a treat. I always feel like the BBC Proms are pricey to attend – travelling to London, booking a hotel etc. – but in the end it’s worth it because it sounds spectacular. I always forget how lovely the Royal Albert Hall is.
Why do I love Prokofiev so much? I’m not going into style or teeny details because I’m no music academic – just a student. Here is my opinion summed up: whatever he writes, he makes me want to play it. Plus his music always has a dark side to it no matter how ‘classically’ it is written. Take Romeo & Juliet for example, who wouldn’t want to be playing in that?! (The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain recently performed a Prom where they played this incredibly. So jealous.) This is probably the most famous movement – Montagues & Capulets.
I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to play movements of the ballet in orchestras I’ve been part of. In every movement I wanted to be in the tragedy, in the story and even be an ‘extra’ watching what was going on. A striking point in the plot: Death of Tybalt.
I had to chance to play the Scythian Suite, which is another ballet. This was in Winter 2010/2011 where I was part of the NYO for sadly just one out of the three amazing courses. Here is a video of the 1st 2nd the more terrifiying movements, with the same conductor as last night. You need to listen to most of it to hear the different sections. And perhaps listen before you read on. Or alternatively you can listen while you read?
Devilishly fun to play. 1st movement – Invocation to Veles and Ala
2nd movement – Dance of the Pagan Monster
So far I have only mentioned ballet music but the rest of his work that I’ve heard, particulary his concerti, is all worth practicing to perform. I cannot get enough.
If you want to listen to the Prom, BBC iPlayer have it on demand for several days. Here are clips from YouTube anyway. Prokofiev’s ‘Classical Symphony’ so charming!
Dutilleux’s violin concerto – Les arbres de songes – was completely new to me. I don’t really know much about Dutilleux, but this rather lengthy concerto (no breaks between movements), despite being a little difficult to listen to, was a pleasant experience.
Prokofiev Symphony No.5 in Bb Minor. I love the ending… so here’s the fourth movement!
I want to stop sounding like a music nerd now. I honestly don’t know enough to be able to write about it. An obvious statement but I’ll say it anyway; I think the best way to get to know music and to understand everything is to play it.
…I should probably go and do more of that.
I find that when I’m in a concert where I haven’t heard a particular piece before, I get bored and occasionally my eyes refuse to keep open. I know it isn’t fair on the orchestra/soloist(s) who have slaved themselves every day into rehearsing it, who have to look like they’re playing every note, bow in the same directions etc. but it’s something I honestly cannot help. When I don’t know it I won’t be able to look forward to hearing the rest of it. When you truly know the pieces from playing them, it’s so much easier to listen to because you had to explore, experiment and practice it as well. In a way, you are not forced to listen to the performance. You can relax and listen to how this virtuoso sounds so much better compared to you when you played it, you can associate with the moods/colours, and even think about what you were like during the time you took on this challenge.
Now I’m sitting in Copenhagen, Burger King with my travelling companions, waiting for another companion to arrive. I have already embarrassed myself by the till at the café. I said this to Chan:
‘English teabags in Norway?’
You bloody fool, Copenhagen is in DENMARK DENMARK DENMARK and that café girl sniggered at you because you clearly have problems.
I purchased enough Internet time to add videos/photos to this post, email people and other things. This has cost me unnecessary money but sheer dedication has brought me to do this. World Wide Web ought to be proud of me. Denmark is apparently one of the best countries to live in but everything is so expensive. £7-£8/60 DKK for an hour of Internet?! Ridiculous.
I am really rushing this. Okay, BYE!