#Classical365: 34 – Franck Violin Sonata

Second trip back to the gym this week. Getting back into a routine seems rather more difficult than I thought it would. Got distracted by the first episode of Silk season 3 on Netflix. After which, I gave Simon strict instructions not to watch any more without me. Spent the next 50 minutes doing cardio – the extent to which my enthusiasm got me doing any exercise.

Ended up listening to Franck’s Violin Sonata. The prospect of getting back into the blogging process and attempting a catch-up on the project (I think I’m something like twelve days behind on myself) also seemed daunting. But once I’d got into the swing of the treadmill, Franck’s music transported me like so many works before it have this year.

It triggered another fictional story which might be worth working on for what appears to be a growing collection of ideas. And if I look at a lot of the ideas I’ve had so far this year, a lot of have some unexpected themes worth exploring a little more too. So it seems, a little gentle exercise and some taut, agonised French romanticism is just what the lethargic me needed this rainy Saturday afternoon. Let’s hope I can eventually get the spring in my step back soon.

#Classical365: 33 – Bruckner Symphony No.4

A colleague at work describes Bruckner’s output as ‘washing machine music’. No surprises there, I think to myself when he tells me, he’s a Wagner fan. He also pours scorn on Britten. I’ll forgive him that.

Maybe my colleague’s analogy was inevitable. Aren’t all Wagner fans convinced of the man’s greatness to the exclusion of all else?

“I’d always rather liked Bruckner,” I said rather desperately, well aware my defence wouldn’t wash. “You know, Locus Iste and number four.”

Truth is, that’s all I know. So I start listening to the opening of Symphony No. 4 this morning at the gym – the first visit after giving myself a week to get over a back injury. Take it gentle. This isn’t a race. Twenty minutes of cardio, some crunches and some stretches. That will do for today.

In the time I’m on the cross-trainer I get the first movement under my belt. Shimmering beauty, defiant and triumphant throughout. The horn calls in the main theme that echo throughout the first movement conjure up something magical. It’s electric. Forget Beethoven 6. This is pastoral beauty.

At the same time I realise its transporting me back to the first time I heard it – rehearsals at Snape Maltings back in 2007 or 8. Come and make a short video, they said. OK, I said. Rented the equipment and the car and drive up to Suffolk. Capture some cracking shots inside the hall of the band rehearsing. At the same time I arrive at the shockingly straightforward realisation why the orchestra sounds so much better than when I managed it ten years before. Yes, of course, there are different players, but now this bunch have got more money for rehearsals, conductors, players and accommodation. All we needed was money. Why the hell hadn’t I realised that when I was doing the job? Maybe I might have stood a better chance and stayed with it and stayed in the arts.

When I get back to London with the footage I’m pleased. Some beautiful wide angle shots of inside and outside the hall. But hang on, what’s wrong the sound? Everything is recorded on the onboard mic, meaning the rehearsals are great but the interviews need to be done again. There then follows some hasty phone calls to rearrange the interviews in London. Fortunately, the resulting package works well cutting between rehearsal footage and player interviews. I’ve salvaged it. And I’m proud of it. All done with the soundtrack of the first movement from Bruckner 4.

And then the phone call, and the email, and another phone call (and eventually, a painful sidestepping to avoid the person outside the Albert Hall the following summer). They don’t really like the package, after all. It’s not what we commissioned. Well, what would you like? Not that. Could we just have the raw footage and we’ll cut it the way we want it?

Ouch. There’s nothing worse than shooting something and then discovering that all they wanted was for you to operate the camera. Like asking the playwright to put all the words on the page so the actors can reassemble them, come up with the plot.

Sod them. I hesitated. Dug my heels in. Things soured. What I’d originally seen as an rapprochement with my own past quickly faded.

I can’t remember what happened in the end. All I remember is the opening of Bruckner 4. How I’ve never to anything past that point. And, when I did this morning, I realised that my colleague from work was in fact correct.

#Classical365: 32 – Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier (I) Prelude and Fugue in D Major

I wasn’t working until late afternoon/early evening, but it felt like I was working all day. Couldn’t relax knowing that I had to be at Broadcasting House for the Audio Drama Awards in the evening. Ironed my shirt, watched some TV and had a hot bath to try and sort out my back. Restless all day.

When I left the house, I wasn’t especially excited about the prospect of tweeting before and during the awards ceremony. Felt incredibly flat when the four of us on the team sat down to talk tactics at 5. Had I asked too many people to help? Would we get anything decent? Had I overestimated everyone’s confidence levels? But, as the guests started to arrive at 5.30, energy levels went up. Guests we thought we’d struggle to identify, name, photograph and tweet about, quickly became challenges for all of us on the team.

Every so often other colleagues who had identified celebrities at the check-in desk sought us on the team out and pointed to who we might be interested in. People started making not-very-subtle glances in the appropriate direction. The colour of people’s ties, hair and dresses suddenly took on the utmost significance. In the space of half an hour we tweeted nearly ten times with a different guest pictured in each. More than I’d anticipated. More pleasing was that without any planning or prior agreement, a natural team emerged powered by an energy that seemed to come from nowhere.

I love it when the team pulls together unexpectedly and the thing you had in mind when you asked different people to work on something suddenly becomes the reality you’d dreamt of. It is an incredibly uplifting experience. It feels like a real achievement. Something to be proud of, even if close analysis undermines the sense of ownership that the pride implies. It wasn’t my achievement: it was everyone’s. Being able to stand back and derive joy from a shared achievement is incredibly important to me.

A good night then to listen to Bach’s Prelude and Fugue No.5 in D Major. Bright, solid and celebratory. At no point so far this year has a piece of music summed up my mood. This is both heels firmly on the ground stuff. A strong jaw line, a wide grin and a spring in your step. This mood can’t continue indefinitely – nothing ever does. So, why not celebrate it by immersing yourself in it when you can.

#Classical365: 29 – Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier (I) – Prelude & Fugue No.4 in C sharp minor

Again, no time. Another busy day. Very productive. Left central London in a good mood. Win.

The fourth prelude and fugue has an entirely different mood compared to the others I’ve listened to. There’s a restlessness which I think must been rooted in the key, something I didn’t hear in the C minor prelude and fugue. It felt out of character in comparison with the others. Unsettling. At the end of it I had this feeling that a question was lingering unanswered. Quite eery that.

Gould sounding more prominently than in other preludes and fugues. Felt like I had a music teacher sad next to me encouraging by humming along while I battled at the keyboard.

#Classical365: 28 – Spohr Nonet

No time. Rushed. Narked. Train home after a cheeky glass celebrating a colleague’s new job.

Ended up listening to Spohr’s Nonet after taking a trip down memory lane listening to Mendelssohn’s Octet. Should have stuck with the Mendelssohn and blogged about that instead. The Spohr is a little twee. Terribly sweet but lacking any great tension and, as a result, little idea we’ve resolved anything either. A pretty distraction when what I wanted is some drama.