Yesterday morning I posted my application for a TV licence with the usual feelings of reluctance when parting with money, and at £157 that is a meaningful amount for me. But, there are from time to time programmes on BBC that make that worthwhile, so the disinclination to savage my bank balance was slightly softened.
Last night we had the first of the new "live" performances of the Proms with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
A first time performance for a British composer left me unmoved - it was short and seemed to go nowhere except that it was pleasantly haunting in places. Novelty was introduced by a few notes on a mouth-organ, and very strangely somebody holding aloft in wavering hands a sort of musical box about the size of a bag of sugar and twiddling a handle to allow music on a punch tape to scroll through and play some tinkling notes which didn't seem to have any connection with the rest of the piece.
Aaron Copland's Quiet City followed. A wonderfully evocative piece featuring immaculate trumpet playing. The performance was enhanced by cleverly edited camera work depicting empty city street scenes which was a brave thing to do snd would have been a disaster if not well handled.
The main event was Beethoven's Eroica symphony. The Finnish conductor, Sakari Oramo was at the helm. He was a delight to watch with facial expressions expressing his enjoyment, delight, and deep feelings. The orchestra was socially distanced so he seemed to be able to pinpoint individuals with a different kind of precision.
But, the most striking feature for me was the demeanour, without exception of all the members of the orchestra. They were all, again I say without exception, glum, tight lipped and otherwise expressionless. I thought they must have just arrived from a meeting where they had miserably failed to negotiate a pay rise.
For me any Beethoven is delight. I have no technical musical knowledge to make a meaningful assessment of this particular performance except to say that I did enjoy the music
This was all a bit strange held in the eerily empty Royal Albert Hall with brief commentary from Stephen Fry and Katie Derham which only served to give factual background to the selections on top of fairly meaningless adulatory observations.