Review on RTE National Symphony Orchestra concert “Nordic Giants”

I attended a concert by the RTE National Symphony Orchestra yesterday. The programme for the night was:

NORDIC GIANTS

Friday 23 January 2015, 8pm

National Concert Hall

SIBELIUS Finlandia [8′] 

GRIEG Piano Concerto in A minor [31′] 

NIELSEN Symphony No. 2, The Four Temperaments [32′] 

HOWARD SHELLEY piano/conductor

I was very drained from work and I believe that clouded my judgment and appreciation of the concert. Also, take my words with huge pinches of salt as I am a musical nob. Here’s my review of last night’s concert.

Shelley’s touch is exquisite on the piano, especially during the second movement of Grieg’s piano concerto.

The orchestra sounded like a chamber orchestra last night. What on earth happened to my beloved orchestra? From the orchestra that created many magical moments for me to this muted and tempered chamber group. Or perhaps it’s the character, style and orchestration, etc of Nordic composers, to sound like that – cold and distant (ok, except for the sanguine movement in Nielsen’s which sounded chippy and positive). So, perhaps it’s not the fault of the conductor, just my exhaustion speaking. However, I just felt that Shelley didn’t utilise the full palette of the orchestra. He didnt bring out the best from the orchestra which seemed confused. Perhaps, there wasn’t enough rehearsals? Shelley said during the pre-concert talk that he doesn’t work with other conductors except for the one, two conductor friends who persuade him to do so. It does make me wonder the reason for it. I am disappointed that the orchestra didn’t create much magic for me today. I look forward to the next one where the principal conductor Alan Buribayev returns to take up the baton.

On hindsight, I finally realised the difference a master and mediocre conductor can make on the orchestra (I am NOT saying that Shelley is mediocre). I watched bits of a youtube video where conductor Karl Bohm was rehearsing with the Vienna Philharmonic on Strauss’s Don Juan – it’s inspirational. I felt that under his directorship, he skillfully and masterfully elicited the sounds that he wanted from the orchestra.

To conclude, Shelley is clearly a very fine pianist. However, as a conductor, his style doesn’t gel with me. This is clearly my personal view as music, which is an art form, is subjective. Besides, people around me were clapping their hands off.

Today is the day where …

Today is the day where I:

  • Finally figured out how to use the bike pump that I purchased more than a month ago. It feels so good when it is hard. The bike tyre.
  • Cycled to Ikea from my place which is about 12 km away and it is uphill on the way to Ikea.
  • Had the Ikea experience which included buying more stuff (hopefully useful) than I originally intended to and had a hotdog and a soft serve ice-cream. The soft serve ice-cream machine is AMAZING. You pop the cone in the holder and the holder goes up, up and away and the machine pops the ice-cream into the cone PERFECTLY, topped with chocolate and strawberry sauce. It is CLASS.

I don’t think I’m going to cycle to Ikea again… not any time soon anyway. 😉

I am so going to die of a heart attack…

I woke up feeling amiss. Something’s not right with my body. Just like after a mild hangover. But it’s not a hangover. It’s from last night’s humongous Christmas dinner, which Derarca very kindly invited me to, to spend with her family and very close friends. Here’s what I had last night:

  • starter: salmon on soda bread, Dublin Bay and Madagascar prawns in mayo
  • Turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, roast parsnip and potatoes, bacon, sausages, etc
  • Christmas pudding set on fire, with cream and brandy butter
  • Cheese and crackers on platter and brandy
  • Christmas fruit cake with icing
  • Coffee with milk

I suspect I’m on the onset of a heart attack from the above. Time for a run now, on St. Stephen’s Day!

P.S.: I didn’t mention the very delightful company that I had last night! Simply hilarious and good craic!

A romantic proposal

Love Actually – this romantic comedy which I rewatched yesterday and this morning. If you haven’t watched it, the movie is about the love stories of various characters whose lives are intertwined in some ways.

My favourite love story in the movie is one that is between Jamie and Aurelia. Jamie is an English writer who retreated to a cottage in France to write during the autumn. Aurelia, from Brazil, helped to tidy up/clean up the writer’s den. The man gives the woman a ride home daily.

Jamie doesn’t speak Portuguese. Similarly, Aurelia doesn’t speak English. Here’s an exchange between the two of them:

Jamie: [in English] It’s my favorite time of day, driving you.
Aurelia: [in Portuguese] It’s the saddest part of my day, leaving you.

Finally, autumn is over. Aurelia returned to Brazil and Jamie to his life in London (I think). Meanwhile, Jamie took night classes in a language school to learn Portuguese. The movie doesn’t mention the life of Aurelia in her home country.

Fast-forward to the final scene between Jamie and Aurelia. Jamie abandoned his family on Christmas eve/day (after delivering the presents) and caught a flight to Brazil. Here’s the dialogue between our two characters where Jamie appeared in the restaurant where Aurelia works:

Jamie: [in Portuguese] Beautiful Aurelia, I’ve come here with a view of asking you to marriage me. I know I seems an insane person – because I hardly knows you – but sometimes things are so transparency, they don’t need evidential proof. And I will inhabit here, or you can inhabit with me in England. Of course I don’t expecting you to be as foolish as me, and of course I prediction you say no… but it’s Christmas and I just wanted to … check.
Aurelia: [in English] Thank you. That will be nice. Yes is being my answer. Easy question.
[People in the restaurant standing up and applauding]
Jamie: [in English] You learnt English?
Aurelia: [in English] Just in cases.

There you go. I’m a softie at heart. Happy Christmas everyone!

Quick journal

Lunch with Catherine

  • porridge (made with oats and milk) are very filling and healthy / nutritious
  • Whether something turns out good or bad depends on how you react to it. For example, if my child misbehaves, it is up to me on how I react which subsequently affects his/her response to me.
  • Life isn’t (always) perfect. You have to be cheerful and positive about it. Otherwise, you are going to be miserable.

Amazing week with Joyce

  • Do not settle
  • What are you doing to make it (your dreams/goals) happen?
  • Do not assume that people know what’s on your mind. You have to tell them about it.

Others

  • My butt got pinched twice! Once at the Venue, a Latin club, when I was out with Joyce. The other time was at the company’s Christmas Dinner (by my colleague!)