And now, the end is near...
Saturday evening saw our final concert in Swansea with principal conductor, Thierry Fischer. The Brangwyn Hall was well filled to hear a virtual variety performance of a programme that included Argentinian pianist, Ingrid Fliter.
Now, I don't normally like a big heavy meal before a concert (it makes it difficult to zip the concert dress up), but to be honest it felt like there was enough music in this programme to make several concerts. I therefore felt the need to have a massive pre-concert feast in order to avoid running out of steam before the end (cheeseburger with ketchup, disgracefully large portion of chips with mayonnaise).
After Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito Overture (short and sweet), Ingrid Fliter took to the stage for Beethoven Piano Concerto No 1. Not only did Ms Fliter have fabulous hair, but her playing was exceptionally stylish and elegant. She is a beautiful communicator, to both listener and orchestra, and it was a real pleasure to accompany her. I like soloists who communicate with the orchestra - I feel it makes a real difference to the quality of the music making.
One of my favourite works in the programme was Massenet's Scènes de féerie. It's a really fun play, with plenty of 'meat' in the viola part. I also think its a good work to listen out for if you thought the only work Massenet composed was that infernal Meditation from Thäis!
Our programme ended with Ravel's La Valse, a work that is, as my friend Julia would put it, a bit 'noodly'. As the music progresses, not only does the tempo pick up, but harmonically, you fly through so many different keys that it makes you feel cross eyed. I really like this work as a piece, but you do need to keep your wits about you. I had an utter meltdown during one rehearsal that involved me playing non-existent A flats. Ravel would not have approved.
Come the concert, everything was went well (due to a little extra PPR session - Personal Practice and Reflection). This was only my second performance of this work, and I enjoyed it immeasurably more than the first time I played it (that involved not blinking for the duration of the last six pages).
Egged on by Alex's suggestion that the viola section should 'go large' at the end, and by my desk partner Jim's seemingly unlimited ability to draw more and more sound out of his viola, 'go large' desk four did. By the end, one was very sweaty and had shredded a fair amount of bow hair
And so, now we have enjoyed a few days off. I have restrung my viola, sent my bow off to be rehaired, got my currency for our China tour, lost my passport 300 times, and am currently pondering the contents of my suitcase. Today we record more Doctor Who with the lovely Ben Foster and Murray Gold, then we are straight into rehearsals for China - very exciting times!