Music doing exactly what it says on the tin

Those of you lovely readers who recall my last post will, I hope, be relieved to see that I remain at large to write this one.

Not being put in the Tower by the Dire Straits heavies also meant that I happily could attend a long-awaited concert with Mr Tracks yesterday evening.

The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 in F (Pastoral) and then Strauss’s Eine Apensinfonie (Alpine Symphony) as part of the Edinburgh International Festival at the glorious Usher Hall.

Now, both these works are ones which are highly descriptive and story-telling. The programme notes for the premier of the ‘Pastoral’ symphony described its five movements as:

  1. Agreeable feelings awakened on the arrival in the country
  2. Scene by a brook
  3. Merry gathering of country folk. There arises
  4. A thunderstorm, which joins on to
  5. Charitable thoughts combined with thanks to the Deity after the storm

The Alpine Symphony is apparently full of musical quotes and tributes to the composers and philosophers whom Strauss admired. But of principal note (excuse the pun) is the narrative representations of the breaking dawn over the mountain; the ascent and descent of a climbing party, including their encounters with the mountain’s inhabitants such as goats, and battling through a massive storm; and finally the setting of the sun.

I defy anyone not to hear these stories within the music in either of these works.

There is nothing to match hearing and feeling live the full force or a fabulous orchestra delivering wonderful performances as did the the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. But you can get the next best thing and hear this concert for yourselves courtesy of the incomparable BBC and Radio 3‘s Afternoon on 3 programme. Tune on 14 September 2012, or catch it afterwards on the iPlayer. You won’t regret it.

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