Monday, February 27, 2017

Mechanics of the orchestra

Today I spent an enjoyable and stimulating afternoon at Edinburgh's Usher Hall listening to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The hall was packed and the music was superb. Having not been to a classical concert in a while I was fascinated  by the obvious hierarchy that exists in the orchestra, how they share out applause (and there's a lot of it to share), how they respect the authority of the conductor, the lead violin and any guest soloist. It's all very civilised and disciplined and slightly subservient but in a good way. How else could it work? And it is all rather labour intensive, four people in the rhythm section making tiny contributions once in a while, not quite the work rate of a rock drummer, no sweat at all. Black is the dress code with a little added chatter and a lot of tweaking of instruments. There are also a great many musical notes written down on paper that the players can cleverly read and thumb through whilst holding and even playing a musical instrument, all while sitting on uncomfortable chairs, clever stuff. Here's a rundown of the gig.

Edmund Finnis The Air, Turning (c.10’) (BBC Commission)
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 (c.34’)
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade (c.43’)
Yevgeny Sudbin  replaced by Vadym Kholodenko piano
Ilan Volkov conductor. That's about it.

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