Thursday, 19 October 2017

Concert: Beethoven Piano Concerto Concert Series - Concert 1

Tonight, Let's Do This was at another classical concert - this time, at Morley College, for a Beethoven piano recital. Passed it yesterday evening on the bus, so I knew where it was. Cool - I love Beethoven, but don't hear him enough.

Ah, as someone said when we were locked out the other night - our building is a real Fawlty Towers! Remember how someone ripped the electronic lock off the door to our corridor, so it couldn't be opened from the outside? (Still waiting for that to be fixed.) Well, someone subsequently decided that, since this was likely to pose further problems for residents wishing to, you know, get to bed, they'd push the emergency release button. Which, sure enough, disables the magnetic lock so the door can be opened. Unfortunately, it also beeps incessantly once activated. Happily, I'm a few doors down from it - I pity those who live closer to the door - and I have great earplugs (the long foam ones, from Boots - recommended). So I slept like a baby! Had to take out the earplugs this morning to confirm that yes, it was still at it.. I see that hasn't prompted management to move any faster..

So I was less tired than usual today. This time, it was a direct bus - a chilly wait, but it came in decent time, and I got off at the Old Vic. A short trek down to the college, and they were waiting outside - I joined them as soon as traffic allowed me to cross; there's no crossing there. Our host had printed out tickets for us - just as well, because when they eventually opened the doors (quite late), they did require them. This concert may have been free, but those without tickets were made to wait.

Not much seating in the lobby, so we stood and queued to get in. I don't think they're terribly used to dealing with large numbers, given how slowly they were processing people at the door. A table to the side bore programmes, and a donation box if you felt like it. Inside, the concert hall had the feel of our old school gym: the same kind of roof, windows up high, a stage at the end, a wide, open floor area.. but this one has thick blue curtains that match the artwork that fills both side walls. Seating was individual chairs - hard plastic on the floor area, or upholstered ones to the back, where steps provided tiered seating. Two of our group decided to be close, and sat on the hard seats, in the front - we who favoured comfort sat up the back, and were glad of the extra padding.

Now, this concert was the first of their Beethoven Piano Concerto season, which comprises five concerts, each of which will feature a Mozart symphony, a modern piece, and a Beethoven piano concerto, in that order. The concertos will run in order from 1 to 5. Each will be conducted by the same chap - my sympathies, he's quite long-winded. I guess he'll be doing the same thing at the start of every concert - namely, interviewing the composer of the modern piece in the middle. And the piano soloists are tutors at the college.

Well, we started - eventually - with Mozart's Symphony #9. Which was pleasant, if a little clunky - remember, these are students. And then we were into the bitter pill of the middle part. Why is it that modern "classical" music is so awful? As I discussed with someone later, I guess there's little left to do with the genre, so in an effort to be different, they end up being.. weird. I've certainly seldom heard a piece so discordant as what came in the middle of tonight's performance.

The evening was redeemed, however, by a wonderful performance from Nikos Stavlas, playing Beethoven's piano concerto #1. This is my favourite composer anyway, so I was an easy sell - but I was absolutely entranced, and not at all surprised to see a crowd around him after the show, with at least one brandishing a notebook and pen, obviously hoping for an autograph. (He performs as well as teaching.) This series is a wonderful idea - free concerts enable you to hear top-class pianists performing some of the most beautiful and passionate classical music. The modern bit in the middle is worth it, frankly - just grit your teeth. It's great publicity for the college - small wonder that the principal, surveying the crowd, looked a teensy bit smug!

Afterwards, back in the drizzle towards Waterloo. We were in search of a pub, but on a Thursday night (or, indeed, most nights), the area is crammed. We ended up in The Wellington, across the road from the station, where we managed to get a table. A rather nice pinot grigio was served to me, along with a perfectly decent bowl of chips - yes, I can recommend the place, although the music was a bit loud, and I can't pretend to have been much interested in the football being broadcast on widescreen tellies wherever you looked. Still, we had a good time, and it ended up being rather a late night. (Yay - you'd miss that with most of the events I go to these days..)

Outside, when we finally called it a night, it was now raining heavier. Still, I had a waterproof on, and might have walked back, being now slightly closer - except for the shoes I was wearing, which chafed like mad. So, with that and the rain - and the lateness of the hour - I finally decided to treat myself to the Tube, and took the Northern Line straight home. Which is where I'm blogging from, for once! And which is why I can testify that that thing is still bloody beeping..

Tomorrow, the Crick Crack Club is back at Rich Mix, where Ben Haggerty, one of the co-founders of the club, is retelling the story of Frankenstein. Suitably spooky in this spookiest of months.. and I can think of no better performer to set the scene!

On Saturday, Spooky London Pubs is off to a "Pre-Hallowe'en" Psychic Fair at the King and Queen pub, just down the road from me. Free entry - well, I couldn't say no to that! Can always leave if it's not interesting. That's in the afternoon - that evening, I'm off to Oslo. The play, not the city! (Despite all my Scandic jaunts of late!) Taking place in the Harold Pinter Theatre, it tells the story of the Oslo peace accords. Has rave reviews. Cheapest tickets were with Amazon Tickets.

On Sunday, I'm with Walking in London (a Funzing group) for Southwark's Saucy Secrets.. Hope I can make this one in time! If the day is terrible, I'll go to the cinema instead - I have done the film list.

On Monday, back with the Crick Crack Club - at Soho Theatre this time, with Nell Phoenix telling us all about Tricksterland: a favourite theme of hers!

On Tuesday, the London European Club (first time in ages!) - we're off to the Barbican for a dance production by the Michael Clark Company.

On Wednesday, Walking Victorian London is doing a walk called Alexander Pope's The Dunciad.

Next Thursday, Up in the Cheap Seats is off to Albion, at the Almeida. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend again - hopefully, by that stage they'll have cleared the roads following Storm Ophelia. And Storm Brian, which is due to hit this weekend..

On the 30th, I finally get to see Apologia, at Trafalgar Studios - London Dramatic Arts was going to this a while ago, but it was far too expensive on that occasion. Well, that's what you get for having Stockard Channing and Laura Carmichael in it! Amazon Tickets again.

And finally, I'm hoping for a nicely scary Hallowe'en.. when I heard that they were doing the first-ever stage production of The Exorcist - and what's more, it's on in the Phoenix Theatre, right behind the office.. well, that was fate, wasn't it?! I jumped to get a ticket for that, as soon as they went on sale - after all, Hallowe'en has to be its most popular night! Jenny Seagrove plays the mother of the demonically possessed teen..

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