It’s a while since I’ve been to a live classical concert. Last night I heard John Lill at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s 1st Piano Concerto. Whatever your taste in music there is really no substitute for hearing it live. I didn’t recognise John Lill but he probably wouldn’t have recognised me either, seeing as the last time I heard him perform live was in Salisbury, forty years ago. I don’t feel qualified to comment on the performance. To me it was simply exceptional.
Composers of symphonies and concertos are considerate people. They leave gaps of a few seconds between each movement so the audience can cough.
I like the Usher Hall, it is spacious, the acoustics are brilliant and the seating is superb. As far as theatres and halls go, Edinburgh seems to have the best and the worst. For me, the worst theatre I have ever been in is the Edinburgh Playhouse where, a couple of years ago, I sat in a seat with so little leg room that my knees were up near my chin – and it wasn’t a cheap seat. Could it be a coincidence that the theatre is owned by the same company that owns the Apollo in Oxford, where a few years ago part of the row of seats in front of me collapsed sideways like a pack of cards? Yes, of course it is a coincidence. And why doesn’t it surprise me that the company that owns the Playhouse runs seven private jets? (according to Wikipedia anyway, a website not best known for its accuracy). My experience at the Edinburgh Playhouse was so awful that I wrote to the company and managed to get a refund, the first time I have felt so outraged to do such a thing (not “Disgusted of Guildford” but “Outraged of Edinburgh”). Perhaps more people should complain about the state of the seating at the Playhouse. I know I’m not the only one who has had problems because whenever I raise it in conversation I get that instant, recognisable response from others who, until then, believed they were the only ones out of step.
The reason I didn’t ask for my money back after the fiasco at Leuchars is because I know that a proportion of the small fortune I paid for my four tickets goes to charity (and it had better be a LARGE proportion). Also, I know I haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a refund because the delays have already been blamed on road accidents. That’s like blaming the loss of the Titanic on icebergs. As with the Titanic, the design was all wrong, guys! Read my lips – you cannot get that many cars into Leuchars in such a short space of time, trust me, believe me, work it out with a pencil and paper using average speeds, numbers of vehicles and time available. It is NOT rocket science! My crystal ball tells me it will be just the same next year unless they limit the number of tickets sold. But they won’t do that, will they?
Jeez, I must have got out of bed the wrong side this morning…
Back to John Lill: When we arrived at the Usher Hall they were tuning the piano. It wasn’t one of those uprights that stands against the wall in great aunt Agatha’s sitting room, it was a huge, shiny, grand piano about the size of my kitchen and no doubt a Steinway or Bechstein. I wondered whether it was John Lill’s own piano and if so, did it travel around with him? I can see advantages and disadvantages in this. The most obvious disadvantage is the size of the instrument and the expense of transporting it. The advantage, of course, is that you are less likely to leave it behind on the bus than a flute or a violin.
You’ll never guess what I like best about this post…
When I wrote Tchaikovsky, the spelling checker didn’t correct me.