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Proms 2009: Prom 19 – Mendelssohn Symphony No.2 ‘Hymn of Praise’ \ Elder \ Halle Orchestra

July 30, 2009

Given the length of Mendelssohn’s second symphony ‘Hymn of Praise’ – a testing 62 minutes according to the Proms brochure – it wasn’t a huge surprise to read that the Halle’s performance of the work was the first outing at the Proms for 40 years.

On paper, the combination of orchestral forces, chorus and soloists may at first seem a bit of a turn off. And yet there’s an undeniable and relentlessly upbeat force in the symphony, making it impossible not to crack a smile somewhere close to the beginning and maintain it throughout.

The sound of the Halle chorus and Halle Youth Choir was uplifting, an obviously well chosen number to fill the cavernous interior of the Royal Albert Hall. The soloists looked fantastic. Tenor Steve Davislim sounded especially striking too, something I’m surprised I feel able to say given that I know absolutely nothing about singers.

What hit home for me was the timing of the performance.

Being a fan of perfection and synchronicity, it wasn’t until I journeyed into central London from a hard day working from home (and in case you’re wondering, yes I *do* work when I work from home) I learnt Mendelssohn had written the work to commemorate the invention of the movable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg.

Shortly before I left for the concert, I’d learnt that the publishing system I have been using for the past few months had gone through something of a startling transformation. The error messages which is returned every time I attempted to publish something had suddenly stopped appearing. Quite unexpectedly, something which had formerly seemed as though it would hang around me and everything I was involved with like a bad smell, had suddenly vanished. Dark thunderclouds suddenly dispersed leaving a handful of fluffy white clouds and blue skies.

I checked the news I’d received from a colleague, by attempting to publish something. It really was the case. The error message was no more. It wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t long before I reliased to what extent those error messages had been weighing down on me in recent weeks.

It’s fair to say that this ‘weight’ is nothing in comparison to the burden someone else I’ve been in contact with today has to suffer. To go into that would warrant far too many words and cross way too many lines.

Instead, satisfy yourself your potential curiosity with the name of the publishing system I use which now works: Movable Type.

(Oh .. tonight’s programme notes by Andrew Huth were really very good. Well done him.)

Listen to Mendelssohn’s Symphony No.2 (and whilst you’re at it, listen to soprano Susan Graham in the first half too in Berlioz’s test piece for the Prix de Rome)

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