Well, so this particular concert was originally not on my list of Proms to see…However, if a good friend of yours contacts you on a Monday morning if you are free that evening to take the ticket that has become available – who can say! Especially if you get to sit in the Queen’s Box!!
At one of my earlier concerts this season one of the people next to me was talking about Mirga Graziyte-Tyla, tonights conductor, and was in absolute awe of her. So I knew I was going to be in for an interesting evening – if nothing else…
It was a little unusual sitting so far away from the orchestra and also behind the conductor – and to be honest – the sound was a little different and I can definitely say that choir seats are and will remain my favourite seats in the house….
The concert started with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture. It was remarkable to see this tiny little women step onto the conductors podium, without a score and a baton and whip this Beethoven into shape! Absolutely astonishing! Her movements were almost a choreography of their own and led to the orchestra having a spring in their step in playing as well. A totally new and fresh approach!
Well, up second was Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto. Leila Josefowicz joined the CBSO on stage. Mirga, this time with score and baton was reigning everyone in for this one! I really wouldn’t want to see the score for this particular piece – you wouldn’t really know where to start! The precision of her conducting made it almost look like this fiendishly tricky concert was actually a walk in the park. To have this combined with Josefowicz’ untamed play was a sheer delight – you could hear the charged air between those two energetic women bringing this piece to new extraordinary heights!
After the interval it was time for another world premiere: Gerald Barry’s Canada. Well, what an interesting piece this was! Tenor Allan Clayton was taking the role of soloist/speaker. I don’t think you can really put too many words to this piece – you actually have to see and hear it! Let’s just leave it at that Mirga and Allan both burst into laughter at the end of it…
Concluding the concert was Beethoven’s 5th. No doubt that the CBSO has played this symphony so many times, and most of the audience have probably heard it once ore twice before so it was amazing to have a really fresh wind blown into those dusty sheets. As a listener I was exhausted after the concert – I wouldn’t want to know how Mirga felt…. of course, some people might brush her conducting style as a show… but she really did bring another energy to the performance and it will be great to see her go places – she’s still so young and has only completed her first year as chief conductor with the CBSO – and we know what other conducting names have prospered in Birmingham….