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BBC Philharmonic at the Bridgewater

October 8, 2008

Post-concert drinkies, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

What better way to listen to Beethoven 9 than splayed out on a sun lounger on the edge of an infinity pool at a German run hotel overlooking the Aegean? Think blue skies, a gentle breeze and no queue at the poolside bar for post-concert drinkies.

I was listening to a recording of a live concert the BBC Philharmonic gave at the Bridgewater Hall on Friday 26 September, the Friday before I came away on holiday.

Whilst I have been able to meet two of the BBC’s criteria for it’s content (finding and playing) I am, sadly, unable to meet the third – sharing it. The performance has missed it’s seven day window on the iPlay-It-Again thingy. Consequently you have only my word to go on.

It was the first concert I’d listened to since the Proms, around about a month after I stood in the arena of the Royal Albert Hall listening to the Proms rendition. I was fighting to maintain my stamina in the last week of the season back then, conscious of some lower-back pain and irritated at the proximity of other concert goers. (It was late in the season.) I finished the performance that night hating Beethoven, the length of his final symphony and certain I’d never listen to any more Beethoven for as long as I could. I certainly wouldn’t be listening to any on holiday.

Not so today. I sat on the toilet this morning browsing BBC Music Magazine and was reminded about the gig. I had a satellite recording of it on my laptop (it had taken quite a lot of fart-arsing around to get it from the Sky+ box to my laptop I might add). I’d listen to it this morning and see if I still felt the same way.

Inevitably, the combination of seering heat and the stunning view added something to Beethoven’s monumental symphony. Not only that, the chance to listen to what sounded like an entirely different acoustic – Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall – was a bit of a treat too.

The performance restored my faith in the 9th symphony. The third movement was especially glorious. It always takes me by surprise. I always think it should start slower than it invariably does. “Bloody hell, that’s cracking on a pace. Should it really be that fast?” The answer is clearly yes. It isn’t long before the third movement is underway that you’re lulled into it’s beauty.

It set me thinking about something I’d quite like to see made available from the iPlayer thingyamy.

How good would it be, I thought to myself as I sipped on my cool beer, if I could download radio content via iPlayer in the same way I can TV shows. That way, I wouldn’t be tied to my laptop to listen to stuff. I could listen at leisure. I could listen in the bath, or on the tube or as I wandered aimlessly through Hyde Park or something…

In fact, if I could have a download manager installed on my portable media player then wouldn’t it be possible to impose some digital rights management on a WMA file thereby preventing me from distributing it and thus keeping all those legal types from going to an early grave? That way I’d be able to to it when I wanted, write yet another tiresome blog about what I’ve just listened to and (if it was available for say .. 14 days?) then share it?

Four hours away from London and with only 48 hours left before I get home, I can’t help wondering whether all these “brilliant” ideas I’m having about iPlayer (let’s be honest – they’ve probably already been explored) may well have provoked some people at the Beeb to look a little more closely at the contract I have. Will I be finding a slim looking envelope on my doorstep when I push the front door open on my return?

No! Of course not. That would never happen.

Best prepare myself for the worst, just in case.

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