Thursday, January 28, 2010
Your bow Sir Edward
Going through the motions kills the emotions is a mantra that should be repeated by orchestral musicans before every performance. I was reminded of this when I switched on BBC Radio 3 yesterday afternoon a few minutes into the first movement of Elgar's masterly A flat symphony. Within a short time it was clear that something special was going on, inspired and intelligent conducting was matched by fresh and committed orchestral playing. I have heard the work literally hundreds of times, but after a few minutes I was marvelling once again at just how great a masterpiece Elgar created, rather than fuming at yet another gratuitous 're-think' of his music.
Entranced, I went to the Radio 3 website to identify the conductor and musicians and was surprised to find it was Marin Alsop and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Congratulations to everyone involved, including the engineers at Swedish Radio, for making a recording that allowed us to hear Elgar pure and simple. And, incidentally, Elgar played and conducted a lot better than in many recent performances by the once great BBC Symphony Orchestra under their never ending succession of male guest and chief conductors. Based on that Swedish concert the BBC Symphony should snap up Marin Alsop as their next chief conductor when IMG Artists finally succeed in placing Jiří Bělohlávek in a top-dollar Stateside music directorship.
Marin Alsop would be the first woman chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The first woman to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic was also an American.
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