Saturday, 3 January 2009


24/11/08 Royal Festival Hall

With the Chamber Orch of Europe, leader Alexander Janiczek. Stravinsky: Apollon Musagete (music 1927-28 for a ballet); Mozart piano concertos no 23 and 24

The Mozarts written just a few weeks apart but very different. No 23 has two sunny outer movements (especially the last, which positively dances, though I’ve heard it sing even more than it did tonight) and an introspective, rather tortured slow movement which is very short. No 24 has a positively rhapsodic slow movement, bracketed by two very dark (for Mozart) outer movements, all minor key, with added timps and trumpets, by turns sombre, stately and rather tragic.

The first piece written for string orchestra by Stravinsky, choreographed by Balanchine. It would have benefited from some dance tonight. A bit bland now and then but generally lovely, rhythmic, patterned – with those plangent sounds so typical of 20th century works for string orchestra.

Ms Uchida a striking figure, wearing a turquoise strappy top under a pink chiffon blouse thing (hideous ensemble). I have never seen anyone bow so deep. Clearly no problems with HER hips. She looks around the orchestra when she first comes on stage (making eye contact) and when taking applause first gestures rather gauchely at the band. She conducted from the piano, sitting with her back to us, standing up to conduct with great flowing gestures.

Not sure how much notice the band took of her – or of Mr Janiczek, the leader. I noticed one of the cellists in the Stravinsky seemed to be taking his cue from the leader of the second violins. Watching the players’ eyelines generally they seemed to be looking anywhere and everywhere except at the leader.

Lots of Japanese in the audience. I saw two women in kimonos, and a very smartly dressed family (mum, dad, two little girls) a few rows behind us – the youngest girl, perhaps 4, fast asleep on her mother’s arm during the interval.

There were quite a lot of kids generally, but they were very well-behaved. But not the coughers, one of whom ruined the start of the slow movement of No 23.

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