The Hallé at the Proms

31st July 2009 | Concerts, Daily Life, Musings | 0 comments

Last night we went to hear Mendelssohn’s 2nd Symphony at the Proms, played by the excellent Hallé Orchestra under their conductor Sir Mark Elder. A few weeks ago, Bob reviewed all the available recordings of Mendelssohn’s 2nd Symphony for Radio 3’s CD Review ‘Building a Library’ programme, but he had never heard a live performance of it, so we grabbed the opportunity.

They say you know you’re getting old when policeman start to look young. Well, I have the same feeling about orchestras. I was sitting about half a mile away on the far side of the Albert Hall and couldn’t see very clearly, but it seemed to me that there was hardly anyone in the Orchestra over the age of forty. Surely the Hallé didn’t used to look like this? What happens to their middle-aged and older players? When I survey the youthful orchestra, I can’t help imagining a pile of worn-out musicians in a cupboard somewhere and it makes me feel obscurely troubled.

Admittedly I was in a slightly strange mood because of something that happened as we made our way up Exhibition Road to the Prom. As we crossed a road, an elderly man tripped just in front of us and fell heavily into the road. We helped him up. He was clearly very shaken, but all he said was, ‘Damn! I wanted to hear that concert.’  Then we looked at his hand. His little finger was badly broken, sticking out to the side at a right angle from the other fingers. A woman near us started dialling for an ambulance. The poor man stood there, holding his broken hand in the air and repeating numbly, ‘Damn! I wanted to hear that concert’, as though he couldn’t take in what had happened.

As we sat listening to the music afterwards, I kept having frissons of horror as I imagined trying to play the piano with a hand like that. Seeing hand injuries always makes me feel quite peculiar. I hope that man is being looked after somewhere now.


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