Thursday, September 10, 2015

Prom 49, 2015: Mahler - Symphony No. 6

Saturday 22-August-2015

Mary decided to make this a "corporate event" so we treated a number of her colleagues to an evening of culture. We had a loggia box which seats eight and smuggled in a small picnic with us.

I was anticipated something quite gloomy given Mahler's reputation but I found it much more enjoyable than I had expected.

The reviews were variable and two both singled out the brass for disapprobation. Skipping over the first half of the concert (Brett Dean’s Dramatis Personae) this is what two reviewers had to say about the main piece:

Seen and Heard international: Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Bring Magnificent Mahler to the Proms.
"And so to Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. Here the sheer orchestral perfection of the Boston Symphony shone through, with perhaps an odd exception: the solo horn player, James Sommerville, too often sounded just barely in control of his instrument and at other times tended towards approximation.
If the opening march was blunted somewhat, one listened with awe at so many aspects of this first movement: the stunning, clarion first trumpet of Thomas Rolfs, the sweet solo violin of concert-master Malcolm Lowe, the superb trombone trudge of the coda against heavy, low strings, and throughout the glowing oboe solos of John Ferrillo. Nelsons’ Mahler is heavily gestural and, yes, atmospheric. He also has a superb rapport with this orchestra; subtle tempo manipulations in the second movement were minutely managed, with Luftpausen both natural and precise."
Full review...

BachTrack: Prom 49: Boston Symphony Orchestra misses the magic in Mahler.
"So to Mahler’s Sixth Symphony. Standing at nearly four times the length of Dramatis Personae, and requiring one of the repertory’s largest orchestras, here it found a very unlikely friend: the Albert Hall’s acoustic. The BSO is a truly magnificent orchestra, and the sheer sonic richness produced by innumerable string desks, nine horns, and a brass section on very high risers meant this huge empty space felt fuller than I have ever heard it. Even better, everything was miraculously clear; Mahler’s orchestrational prowess deserves some credit, but warrants the highest praise for finding such a perfect sound even in this troublesome acoustic.
Unfortunately, the whole was more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps the biggest issue was the balance of the orchestra; the brass was far too loud most of the time, entirely drowning out the strings and woodwind, with the principal trumpet’s extreme vibrato and excessive volume simply too much from start to finish."
Full review...

The Prom finished relatively early as there was a second, late night prom following. So rather than go straight home several of us went for a beer at the nearby Queens Arms hidden down a back street mews with a decent range of beers.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Blues Brothers at Ronnie Scott's 2015

Thursday 20-August-2015

It is almost a year since we saw the Original Blues Brothers Band feat. Steve Cropper and Lou Marini at Ronnie's and were very much looking forward to a repeat performance. We were not disappointed.

No reviews of this year's performances to quote from and no photos of mine because I respect Ronnie's request not to photograph the band (but there are a load on their FaceBook page) including:

Lou Marini.

The parts of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi and taken by Tommy McDonnell and Rob “The Honeydripper” Paparozzi.

We got a bit of duelling guitars at one point. All good fun.

We were presented with a third brother to sing the Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" and others.

An excellent show and I even got to shake Lou Marini by the hand as he walked past.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Eighth Annual BBQ and Drink Our Excess Cellar

Saturday 15-August-2015

We havered about having our BBQ this year but went for it as there was a free Saturday before we went to Italy and it didn't clash with Bob & Lynn's BBQ because they didn't have one this year. So out went the invites and in came the acceptances.

We outsourced much of the catering to Waitrose but the artisanal ice creams are my department.

Ice cream #1 Blueberry ripple. Starting with a home made custard, real vanilla, and added rum in the blueberry sauce.

Ice cream #2 Brandy Alexander. This one never sets fully so is soft scoop and always goes first.

Ice cream #3 Yogurt and raspberry. I had to sieve all the pips even though the recipe said it was optional because I hate the pips getting stuck between my teeth. I add some vodka to the raspberries but not enough as it set hard and took ages to soften enough to serve.

Thirty-eight people came and drank 40 bottles of wine. The more they drink the less we have to move when our house sale goes through.

We left it too late to arrange a burger flipper. All the nephews are too old for that stuff. They are all graduated and have proper jobs that pay real money. Instead our friend Grant did the honours for quite some time which allowed me to mingle and so we gave him some very tasty Riesling as a thank you.

Next year the BBQ will be on the green outside our new flat. Looking forward to that.

Edit: This was actually number eight, we skipped the bbq in 2013.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic in Locorotondo

Masseria Ferragnano, Locorotondo (BA), Italy. Sunday

The main reason for adding a day to our previous trip to Puglia was to see this band following rave reviews from a friend of a friend. Any excuse to spend longer in Italy!

This concert was part of the 11th Locus Festival where (according to the English version of the website) "many other artists, will perform during three weekends themes: the modern black music American, the legends of the musical contaminations, and its electronic avant-garde contemporary." I can go with that.

The concert was in the open air in a country house estate on the outskirts of Locorotondo. The concert wasn't due to start until 10:30 which is just as well as the queue for the beer tent took half an hour!

Mary counted 14 people up on stage. It was a full on jazz funk spectacular.

The backing singer on the right wasn't wearing much so provide equal opportunity eye candy for the ladies they had a male dancer who rippled his six-pack and did handstand on the speaker stack.

The band played for nearly three hours and finished at 1:30 in the morning. Since we were in the middle of the country there were no neighbours to upset. As the crowd dispersed we wended our way back to the apartment just in time for a spectacular firework display at 2am which woke the dogs up and set off car alarms. And a nice lie in the next morning :-)