At the Swansea Festival
Last week was a bit quiet. We had no concerts, but were locked up in the recording studio. Occasionally we were allowed to emerge, blinking, into the outside world in order to forage for caffeinated beverages. By the time the working week was done it appeared autumn had arrived!
This week is quite a busy one for us and there are plenty of great works to hear. On Thursday we will be performing at the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts, under the baton of our principal conductor Thierry Fischer.
On the bill of fare will be Ravel's oh-so-sexy Piano Concerto in G with pianist, Steven Osborne. Mr Osborne recently recorded Ravel's complete solo works for piano (no mean feat) so this will be a wonderful opportunity to hear him perform this concerto after his marathon Ravel immersion! For the geeks amongst us (like myself), there is a very interesting article on the Guardian online about Mr Osborne's Ravel journey.
Also on the programme is Mussorgsky's A Night On The Bare Mountain. I have a clear memory of hearing this work for the first time. I was about nine years old and had only just started viola lessons. The extent of my classical music knowledge was that the viola was bigger than the violin, that Beethoven had funny hair and F natural was not the same as F sharp (thanks to Aunty Margaret for clearing that mystery up for me).
I was curled up in a chair with my dad and it was Boxing Day. For Christmas, Santa had left me a video of Disney's Fantasia and when my Mum popped it into the video player and Stokowski took to the podium and the opening chords of his orchestral arrangement of Bach's Toccatta and Fugue in D Minor blared out, my mind blew.
The final work in Fantasia, A Night On The Bare Mountain, scared the life out of me (don't even start me on The Rite Of Spring). The animation that went with it was genius and I recall being really relieved when the Angelus bell tolled, heralding the end of Chernabog's demonic rule on the mountain!
By the time we had finished watching Fantasia that Boxing Day evening, there was a little bit of me that already knew what I wanted to do with my life. It woke something in me that I had neither the words nor comprehension to express. Over the years, I watched my video of Fantasia so many times that it started to go funny in places, the way videos were wont to do.
Nowadays I get so excited when I play any of the works that were on it - it reminds me why I wanted to play in the first place. As a working musician, it can be really difficult to keep your enthusiasm up at times and its good to be reminded of what made you fall in love with music in the first place.
(PS I now have Fantasia on DVD)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be playing at the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, on Thursday 13 October, 7.30pm. For more information and tickets, visit www.swanseafestival.org.