Regular readers may have noticed a drop in the number of reviews and posts lately. There are several reasons for this, among them that there was a little less on in December than some months and my being laid low by flu over Christmas and the New Year, which, in case you are wondering, is not a fun way to spend the festive period. One potential post that fell by the wayside in part for this second reason was a roundup of my favourite live concerts and performances of the last year. This isn't that post, not least because it would have been largely rehashing what I've already written about the more exceptional concerts (such as Bruckner 8 and Mahler 8, Fidelio and the Kronos Quartet).
One thrilling concert experience hasn't been chronicled here, though. Thursday 3rd December found me playing my trombone (not all that well, as normal, since I don't practice very much) in the winter concert of the Stockbridge and New Town Community Orchestra, or SNOTCO, as we prefer to be known.
We started the concert with Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 which has long been a favourite piece of mine. That said, the thrill of listening to it is, it turns out, as nothing next to the electricity that I felt playing it. That's not something I'd say about everything we play. Probably it helped that it got me thinking back to that performance of Fidelio.
The concert also contained the odd thing for which there was no trombone part - Mozart shortsightedly neglected to include one in his 41st symphony and obviously I had nothing to do with the ensemble item presented by our flute section. Instead, for a change, I just listened.
Of course, you might think I do an awful lot of that, as evidenced by the many reviews I write here. But this was different because I had no intention of writing a review of SNOTCO's performance of the Mozart, or anything else in the concert (given my participation and my membership of the committee responsible for running the orchestra it would be unethical to say the least). So, instead, I simply listened. This is rather different to what happens at a concert I'm reviewing where, at least to some extent, there are always some wheels turning at the back of my mind wondering just what exactly I'm going to say, comment on, or write about later, and recording mental notes to that effect. And, dare I say it, sometimes, and to some extent, that means one doesn't just immerse oneself in the music and simply enjoy it. It turns out it's rather nice to do that for a change and it leaves me wondering whether I should try to review quite so many of the concerts I go to as I do presently.
Don't panic though - this is by no means a preface to packing up the website and stopping reviewing live concerts altogether. I rather enjoy doing that and will certainly continue to do so. However, what I'm thinking is that over the coming year, I may not do quite so much and I may stop trying to review absolutely everything I go to. I may also wind up going to a little less (mainly because so many take place on Thursdays, our rehearsal night, and I'm finding the clash increasingly frustrating, and have recently missed a few concerts I had tickets to as a consequence).
There's another reason behind this thinking too. The more effort that goes into live reviews, the less time I have for other more philosophical musings I might have knocking about in my head (I have several blog posts along these lines that have languished unwritten for over a year) and the less time I have to write about things like recordings, books and television, reviews of which may have a greater long term value.
It's also the case that I find when I'm doing lots for the site, I'm doing less for various other projects - balancing these things (and bear in mind none of them is my day job which pays for it all) can be tricky. One other reason for a drop in content at the end of last year was a little more time I was spending on a non-musical writing project.
Of course, I'm curious to know what you the loyal reader (or even the disloyal reader) think about this. Would you welcome less live coverage in favour of other stuff or would that be a bad thing? The comments, as ever, are below and open to all. Well, unless they're spam, in which case they get deleted, but other than that.
Oh, and lest anyone is concerned, the orchestras are starting up again soon, and you'll certainly read coverage here in the coming months of Ticciati and the SCO, Runnicles and the Deutsche Requiem, Elder and The Kingdom and Rattle and the Berlin Philharmoniker to name just a few.
It's your blog & you can, of course, write whatever you like. But I rather enjoy reviews of bread & butter-type concerts, mainly because to a large extent they reflect what concert-going represents, and which isn't really written about all that much. My local orchestra's Northern Sinfonia & quite a few of their concerts don't even get a mention in the local press. It's interesting to read someone's impressions of an orchestra (or two) over a period of time, which players start to stand out, what repetoire they excel in, which conductors seem particular effective or interesting.
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