I think I ask this every year, and normally around about this stage. The weather has turned cold, the days are short and dark, it feels like one is drowning in an increasingly frozen sea of notes, my bows need to be rehaired, but I've no time to get to my preferred luthier, and it's still a little too early to put up my Christmas tree which would instantly cheer me up.

This has been a busy patch for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, with a lot of unfamiliar notes making the workload seem doubly heavy (though I must say that all in all, I really enjoyed the third Americana concert - the main culprit of extreme notiness/noteyness/many notes - very much).

Over the weekend, the orchestra played in lovely Truro Cathedral. The concert was dedicated to former principal conductor Richard Hickox, and also celebrated the centenary of Cornish composer George Lloyd. It was a good, if rather drafty performance under the baton of the ever unflappable Martyn Brabbins.

Of course, being away meant that I missed watching the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode on Saturday evening. However, I watched it on Sunday evening and thought it a great celebration of the show and quite simply a brilliant episode (Peter Capaldi's eyes!).

I felt a real thrill of excitement and pride at seeing the orchestra credited in the end credits - to be involved in something so iconic is a real privilege.

On Monday, we were straight back into the studio with the Doctor's own personal orchestrator, Ben Foster, although this time it was to record more of the soundtrack for Hidden Kingdoms, a new natural history series starting in the New Year. We do a lot of music for the BBC's Natural History Unit, something I enjoy very much.

My Granda Torbitt instilled in me a love of natural history when I was very small (although I, just as he was, remain petrified of arachnids), and I get quite awe struck when any of the people who've actually been 'out there' filming stuff come into the studio to listen to the recording of the music that will accompany their finished product!

So now it is Tuesday morning, and I am writing to you from my sofa, cocooned in a fluffy throw with a cup of hot tea warming (and wakening) me up. Today we are rehearsing Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 3 and Rachmaninov's Symphony No 2 for a St David's Hall concert with conductor, Eivind Gullberg Jensen, and pianist, Nelson Goerner.

The Prokofiev is a fantastic concerto, but has many awkward corners orchestrally, including some particularly nasty viola bits. It is good stuff though, and the work is, in my opinion, one of the great piano concertos.

Rachmaninov's Symphony No 2 is one of the most beloved of the composer's works. It is quintessential Rachmaninov - no one else could be mistaken as the composer. I am not a massive lover of the, at times as I feel it, overriding sense of sentimentality found in Rachmaninov's works (like marshmallows - really good at first and then suddenly you've had too much sweet, sugary stuff), but I feel this symphony also has a real fizz of excitement.

This is a really lovely winter programme that will leave you feeling all warm inside. Which is the opposite of how I feel right now! It is a particularly chilly morning, and I shall sign off for now as warming up the fingers seems to take twice as long at the minute.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales will perform music by Prokofiev and Rachmaninov on Thursday 28 November, 7.30pm, at St David's Hall, Cardiff. For tickets, call the orchestra's Audience Line on 0800 052 1812, or book online at www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk.

The concert will also be broadcast on Live in Concert on BBC Radio 3, and will be available for seven days after broadcast via BBC iPlayer Radio.


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