Whilst the programme for this particular concert was not the deciding factor the orchestra was the main reason for getting this ticket.
After having seen excerpts of the Prom that the Aurora Orchestra did last year I was intrigued by the concept of playing without scores.
The concert started with Wolfgand Rihm’s Gejagte Form – a rather interesting piece of music. In the past few months I have been listening a lot to more contemporary classical composers like the American Mavericks. Therefore something seemingly modern and without any clear melodies is nothing new to my ears. However, it is definitely one of the pieces that I would like to listen to again to really make up my mind. There were some beautiful moments in the pieces – and undoubtedly – you rarely get to see a Contrabass Clarinet on stage!!! I will most certainly be watching the broadcast on BBC in a few weeks time again to give myself another chance to indulge into this extraordinary piece of music.
The second piece of the afternoon was Richard Strauss’ Oboe Concerto. With the concert being aimed at families it was great to have Tom Service on stage as a presenter. Before the music started he had a chat with François Leleux, the soloist. Myself, not a big fan of music written by Strauss I was a little sceptic as to what was to be expected. This little introduction was not very interesting and – in true Proms style – also very relaxed and informal. Leleux is so very passionate about this particular concerto. It was fascinating to get an insight into his thinking. This passion also shone through in his play. A beautiful piece of music – I am definitely going to be a lot more open minded about Strauss now! The interaction between orchestra, soloist and Nicholas Collon, the conductor, was a true pleasure to watch. Leleux was moving around his little spot and there was an electricity between him and the musicians that is hard to describe. A truly astounding performance!
After the interval Mozarts’s Jupiter Symphony was on the programme. The orchestra performed the whole piece from memory – I have never seen a concert stage that empty – the conductor’s podium, 4 chairs for the celli, 2 stools for the double basses and a set of timpani – that was it. Before they played the whole piece, Tom Service and Nicholas Collon were talking the audience through the 4th movement and the individual melodies in it – a great and very rare insight into a lovely piece of music. Once they actually started playing the air was sizzling – no barriers between the musicians and the conductor – they were one and the joyfulness and lightness in the music was second to none.
The Orchestra is a very young one which gives the performances a certain gusto. Whilst I totally understand that it is very unusual for an orchestra to play without a score I – and this is my very own personal opinion – find the hype a little exaggerated. Choirs, opera singers to name but a few are required to sing without a score on a regular basis. Of course – the orchestra is playing the whole time, singers are not usually singing for the whole of the piece but to sing a Missa Solemnis without a score is also not the easiest of feats. Guess that is the chorister in me speaking…
The atmosphere in the Hall was great again. Looking around the audience there were a lot of families, quite a few with young children – yet, there was not a single bit of noise – you could hear a pin drop! It is great to see what music can do!
Tom Service was also a great addition to the programme. I have read one of his books, Music as Alchemy, and I do like his honest approach to classical music. He has an amazing understanding of the whole genre but is not stuck up in any way – he definitely knows how to keep a broad audience interested.
It most certainly was a pleasant way to spend the Sunday afternoon…