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Prom 14: An ironic performance

July 23, 2007

London Paper

Whilst rolling news channels and the editors of those god-forsaken free newspapers jumped for joy at the prospect of the impending environmental crisis to report on, the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston under the direction of groovy-authentic-performance-specialist Roger Norrington got underway with their performance of Haydn’s Oratorio, The Seasons.

At exactly the same time as the mammoth work got started in the Royal Albert Hall, I was tentatively starting my journey home on my bike, hands locked into position, helmet securely fastened underneath my chin and my face screwed up to withstand the driving rain which appeared to have started the moment I emerged from Tower Hill tube station.

Even the instrumentalists playing in the Royal Albert Hall must have rolled their eyes at the irony of being in London playing as something as climactic as The Seasons at a time when the Midlands are seeing the worst floods they’ve seen in years and everyone in the UK suddenly knows the telephone number for the Environment Agency.

There’s not much I can tell you about The Seasons other than it is absolutely fantastic music for riding home in a rainstorm to. There’s something raw about the sound of authentic performances which fits well with the relentless rain. I’m not sure whether it was the weather or the music which spurred me on more.

There was something quite magical too about cycling away from the centre of London with sounds emanating from the Royal Albert Hall via my radio earphones. There are some things we all of us take for granted and the beautiful simplicity of radio is one of them.

I have to confess though, I did lose interest in the music the moment I stepped inside the front door. I am human, after all. Not all of us can commit ourselves entirely to this summer music marathon. Haydn’s choral work might help maintain a fitness regime but sitting still long enough to listen to the remaining 60 minutes of the concert was not something high on my agenda.

Sorry Mr Norrington. As much as I appreciate the work you do promoting the authentic performance cause, when it comes to the bare necessities you and your love of classical composers do, sadly, have to come a poor second (or maybe third, depending on whether the cats have been fed or not).

* Sadly, I wasn’t able to get a brilliant shot of the rain which we’d all been bracing ourselves for, but I did get this picture which amply illustrates what my rainy ride home was like.

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