Sunday, 31 January 2010

How time flies!

Since my last entry I've been to London and back. An interesting, rather strenuous trip with a whole lot of new impressions I want to write about in the coming days. The Turner exhibition at the Tate Britain was the attraction that prompted the timing of this trip. We were not disappointed, just perplexed. It rather left Turner as a copyist who didn't quite make the grade, whereas the truth is that he was an autodidact always seeking to improve his work by admiring and interpreting the works of the classical painters he chose as his tutors. It is true that not all his "copies" match up to the originals, but it is also a fact that he was moving on into the impressionist era from about 1816 and intensely occupied with the effects of light reaching beyond the technical chiaroscuro effects of the old masters and into a kind of dream world, whose magic is later best illustrated by Monet.
We also went to a nice concert at the Barbican, which wasn't yet built when I was a student (6 years Royal Academy of Music), but unfortunately the orchestra had a tuning problem during the Ravel piano concerto played by the admirable Angela Hewitt. The problem was that Ms Hewitt, a stickler for perfection - not only her own, but also that of the instrument she was playing, had it fine-tuned during the interval. This escaped the notice of the oboist and presumably the conductor was still too inexperienced to check - OK the leader should have done that. In fact, he did play an A on the piano, but no one was listening. Anyway, there were audible discrepancies between orchestra and piano and I thought Ms Hewitt was gritting her teeth most of the time. I certainly was. I turned to a friend and asked her if she thought it was my ears, or could she hear it, too (she's also a musician). The orchestra was under-rehearsed for all but the first piece, an excruciating modern work (name of composer forgotten) which was not at all pretty, but entertaining to watch, with a huge orchestra going at it hell for leather.
At this point I looked up the definition of that idiom and was gratified by what I found:
hell·-for-leather (hel′fər let̸h′ər)
1. with all of one's energy, will, etc.; with wholehearted or reckless determination
2. at full speed or with great speed a hell-for-leather chase
More on London in the next entry!

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