This evening several of us from work went to a concert at the Royal Festival Hall. The English Arts Chorale had chosen two major works (both by chance from 1874) to celebrate its 30th anniversary: Verdi’s Requiem and Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto No. 1. I decided to go because I know I don’t make the most of what London has to offer – and as an ex-pianist I don’t go to enough classical music concerts. By the way, this is the first time I’ve referred to myself as an EX-pianist. After listening to Tom Poster play the Tchaikovsky piano concerto (from memory, I have to add) I realised that those days are long gone… I did my grade 8 in 1991 and haven’t really played since. Why? I don’t have a piano. Apparently there wasn’t enough space in our flat for a piano (nonsense). These days when I sit at a keyboard, I can remember the opening bars of a Chopin waltz, the opening bars of a Schubert impromptu, and a few bars of Careless Whisper and that’s about it. Scales? Arpeggios? Anything technical? Forget it.
But enough of the past. Back to this evening.
The Chorale started with ‘I was glad’ by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (this is what was played as Kate Middleton walked down the aisle at her wedding).
Then came the Tchaikovsky piano concerto. I wasn’t sure if I knew it but as soon as it started I recognised it and wanted to hum along with the violins (I managed to control myself). You would know it if you heard it. As soon as the pianist started playing, I was completely spellbound. I could see his hands on the keyboard from where I was sitting. He was incredible. He didn’t have sheet music. He made it look so easy. He’s young – 30 years old. I think the audience was swept away – until someone’s mobile started ringing. Fortunately for the phone’s owner, the ringtone almost blended in with the orchestra. Almost. It could have been much worse. Tom Poster is definitely one to watch and I believe he’s playing at the Proms this year…
After the interval, the Chorale sang Verdi’s Requiem (a requiem is a Mass for the dead). Again, I wasn’t sure if I knew it, but when the second section started (there are seven sections to the Requiem) I realised I had definitely heard it before. The main theme has been used in The Shining, and Hans Zimmer underscored the theme in the Lion King, and I believe also the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. If I’m not mistaken, it’s currently the music for an advert on TV, but I just can’t remember what for – I know I’ve heard it recently! Soloists were: Susan Gritton (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo soprano), John Hudson (tenor) and Sir Willard White (bass).
After the concert was finished, I was walking up to Waterloo Bridge and happened to look behind me:
London is full of surprises…