Light a Candle…

My father Graham Connor, passed away a year ago on 28th March 2012. On the anniversary of his passing, I thought I would do a memorial video in memory of a life…

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25 Goldfinches!

On Friday 22nd March it snowed for most of the day! I remember well this time last year, we were sitting in the garden enjoying the warm sun! What a difference a year makes!

I had finished work at the university for the three week Easter break and spent the day looking at the falling snow drift past my window and at the visiting garden birds to my feeders. At one stage there were 25! Goldfinches sitting in the surrounding trees. Blue Tits and Magpies visited for the home made bread we had left out the day before.  

Below find video compilation I made of the visiting birds this cold ‘spring’ day.

I Did Not Cry…

Not a tear fell while I listened to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic under the guidance of Vasily Petrenko as they performed for the first time in the Philharmonic’s history the entire 10th Symphony by Gustav Mahler. There were moments when I was overcome with emotion but I managed to hold it together and not embarrass myself or David.

Vasily Petrenko(1)

I was saddened to see that on both performances of Mahler’s 10th, the hall wasn’t full to capacity! I wonder what made the organisers put on two shows rather than one? I wish they had done the same for Mahler’s 8th last year, then I may not have been stuck at the back of the Anglican Cathedral and upsettingly witness someone in the audience keel over! However, as there were no heads in front of me, I had a great view of the orchestra and of Vasily in this special performance.

I listened to the broadcast of the first show on BBC Radio Three on Thursday and I, with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio succumbed to the wonderful orchestration of Mahler’s unfinished symphony, completed by Deryck Cooke. The Philharmonic’s command of the Adagio (1st movement) was simply breath-taking. I believe I had not heard it played with so much depth of emotion before. The sound was so clear even streaming through broadband!

And so for Saturday’s performance. David and I, wrapped up from the chilling wind that brought with it Spring snow the day before, made our way to the Philharmonic Hall. We gingerly watched for ice underfoot as we caught the 86 bus and was transported smoothly for our date with Mahler!

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I have been attending the Philharmonic in Liverpool for nearly 20 years now and have listened to Mahler being performed countless times. It was my first on hearing his 10th being played though. With excited butterflies in my tummy, the lights in the auditorium fell and the brilliant (almost too bright) spotlight lit up the orchestra as Vasily walked on stage with baton in hand. There was a collected intake of breath from the audience as the first bars of the Adagio were played. I love watching the sections of an orchestra as they come together and it’s only with Mahler symphonies that the percussion section seem to entertain most of all. David said he liked the soaring strings in the romantic Adagio the best. I noticed how Vasily would raise his hands to the heavens almost as if beseeching Mahler’s spirit to come amongst us as his music drifted into the ether. Norman Lebrecht in his blog post describes a conductor approaching a performance of Mahler’s 10th Symphony as ‘the maestro, for that hour-plus,’ has ‘to be Mahler.’ Therefore perhaps Vasily was indeed channelling the spirit of Mahler? During the two Scherzo’s Vasily seemed to take on the persona of a demented fiend, jerking about like a man possessed. He would raise his fist to the orchestra who in turn would challenge him in their playful audacity. As the drum of fate boomed around the auditorium the conductor seemed to shiver as if in fear. The only comic relief to be had was during the ländler where the orchestra played light-heartedly and Vasily shook his booty on the podium!

Then the soul tormenting Finale came. It’s a piece of music that usually renders me in tears. Thankfully this evening it wasn’t the case, though the screeching strings and then the soft sighing of the woodwind tugged at the heart. Catherine Jones of the Liverpool Echo in her review said there were some tonality issues, but none that could detract from the poignancy of the music being performed. Vasily seemed to have tightened up the brass section since the first performance and they played with unparalleled confidence. As the final note of Mahler’s 10th faded, Vasily paused while the rawness of the performance was absorbed by the audience. The young conductor fell back upon the rail of his podium as if overcome with emotion and sheer exhaustion of the piece. With baton lowered he invited the audience to show their appreciation, a few rose to their feet. Vasily came onto the podium twice more to accept praise where it was due. He also seemed subdued, placing his hand to his heart in gratitude. The applause was understated, perhaps due to the fact that Mahler’s 10th is a symphony largely forgotten or maybe the powerful emotions performed for over an hour subdued the audience? Either way they milled out of the hall silently, thoughtfully.

I really wish that the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic would release a recording of their rendition of Mahler’s 10th Symphony. I believe it was one of the best, if not the best I have heard it performed! Norman Lebrecht also mentioned in his blog that Vasily would be repeating his version of Mahler’s 10th ‘next year with the Philharmonia in London and the radio orchestra in Berlin,’ something to look forward to then.

We have a leak! :(

News from the weekend is that we found a leak in the ceiling of our guest bedroom. The leak is coming from a shared chimney stack we have with our neighbours. We have had the roofers out and they are coming some time this week to re-point the brickwork, but ultimately the stack needs to be taken down. 😦

On a more brighter note, I saw a lone Wren in the garden this evening. Below is footage I took of one last year!

We have had many Goldfinches, Pigeons and Starlings visit over the weekend as well as two Blue Tits and a Magpie. 🙂

The Phantom of the Opera and Home made Custard!

It’s been a busy weekend!

As the title suggests David and I went to a packed Liverpool Empire to see a new production of The Phantom of the Opera. I have seen the musical twice before and wanted to share this with David. I think he was impressed with the stage design.

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On Friday I was invited to Gary (David’s twin brother) and his wife Bilgen’s English wedding celebratory party. The evening went fast enough, but I realised I have nothing in common with anyone! 😦 I came home with balloons and white roses which dressed the tables. It was such a shame to waste them!

Sunday, and I was determined to make a nice rhubarb pie, (after last weeks tart didn’t go to plan). I also decided to make alongside the pie, home made custard with milk, eggs and a very expensive vanilla pod! The result was lovely! 🙂 I will definitely make it again! 🙂

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The day before, after coming home from the Empire I made ‘slow roasted salmon with red wine barley‘ though it wasn’t as tasty as I had hoped it would be, but we have to try these things to see if we like them!

News on the wild bird front: Yes I am still feeding them! The Chiffchaff was spotted in the tree Sunday afternoon, though the Pigeons and Goldfinches chased him away!

It is David and My, seventh year anniversary tomorrow (Monday), I can’t believe how quickly time has past! It seems only like yesterday when he was picking me up from my street corner in a blizzard to see a particularly bad Jake Gyllenhaal film in 2006!