Music: Prom 71

Caught Prom 71 last night with A. We didn't sit together as A was very organised and got his tickets ages ago while I bought my ticket online at 1am Monday morning upon remembering that this concert was coming up this week. This last minute purchase meant that I sat in the circle with a restricted view. This meant that I could not see all of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and at times the acoustics made it seem like the orchestra were playing down the street. It was also bloody hot with the heat from the lights and 3000 living and breathing bodies in the hall seemingly rising and hitting you in waves... But I could see the conductor Zubin Mehta and the soloist Katarina Dalayman. As it was an event concert that was being televised it was exciting to just be there anyway...

It was a bitty programme really however with the lovely Haydn Symphony No 103 opening the programme, followed by Three Fragments from Berg's opera "Wozzeck" which didn't really sound great if you weren't familiar with the opera. Dalayman sounded lovely however up in the cheap seats even if it wasn't quite possible to understand what she was singing.

After the interval however (which enabled me to escape the heat of Albert Hall and stand outside in the pleasant September evening) came Stravinsky's Rite of Spring which is a particular favourite of mine. It is full of passion, excitement and death but it isn't everyone's cup of tea. A hearing it for the first time didn't think much of it. He wasn't expecting so much percussion and death. Indeed after the piece you feel like you need to sacrifice a virgin. No wonder that the premiere of the piece in 1913 sparked a riot. We both suspected that those Russians have a very different sort of spring to one in India or Australia - a spring of DEATH perhaps. Still I loved the piece, and it was great to see it performed live by such a great orchestra.

The audience loved it too. So much so that Mehta then gave as two encores two Strauss Waltzes. Well it was the Vienna Philharmonic so the punters lapped it up. It ended the evening on an unusual programming note however. The audience was lulled into a false sense of security with the Haydn, then beaten about by the Berg fragments, before being witness to a virgin sacrifice with the Stravinsky and then waltzed out of the hall with the Strauss. An unusual journey to take all in one evening...

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