Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sonic Boom

On Monday 25 June I had a major experience I did not expect; the most sumptuous orchestral sound I have ever heard in my life. It was at an open rehearsal in the Royal Festival Hall of the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra we hear so much about and their whizz-kid of a conductor, Gustave Duhamel. (By now, some the youths are in their thirties, but no matter). The sound of, at a guess, two hundred instrumentalists was a shattering experience, I can tell you, possums; it was positively an aural orgasm: the sight of some seventy violins and violas bowing together on the G string or reaching into the rosin places in high-lying Richard Strauss was incredible, supported down below by ten horns, umpteen cellos and a dozen double-basses, overwhelming. Grasping for analogies I can only say it was like snuggling on half-a-dozen eiderdowns or tackling a whole pile of jammy trifles. OMG! It was Pelion on Ossa, sun rises and sunsets, one after the other.

When the orgy was over, the lady in the neighbouring seat asked me "what was that they played, do you know?" Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony I replied. My neighbour also asked if the music was great and of course I had to say 'no' but that it was the perfect showcase for such a vast orchestra with climax after climax, sonic amplitude after sonic tone-burst, sunrise after sunrise and finally, detumescence after detumescence, i.e. taking a long time to drop the penny. Incidentally, Gustave Duhamel is no whizz-kid but obviously a thoroughly competent and skilled conductor, totally in command of his vast forces as regards balance and musical sense. Oh, possums, fifty minutes of gorging the gorgeous!

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