This wasn’t where I was expecting to be on a Sunday evening, but I knew I was on to something good when the programme said the composer himself referred to part of his work as ‘frenchified trash.’
This is a dancing, lilting and sometimes dark work on the emotions and trials of rural life and the changing year. At times I was smiling at the cock-a-doodle-dooing oboe, or being swung around by the boozy end of the harvest festival. That was the point at which the chorus, so powerful but demure and contained through Spring and Summer, came to life in the raucous party conjured by the music. Swaying, grinning, haa-haa-haaing.
The two hundred strong stage of the combined London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus were forceful and more importantly joyful in the music, with Sir Simon Rattle drawing this from them and creating the story in front of me. I’m sure this has been said a hundred times before, but I really couldn’t take my eyes of the way he felt every second of the music.
Others in the Barbican audience were equally enthusiastic.
‘Everyone in London’s been done-over by not coming to this’ (Happy audience member leaving the stalls)
‘The guy who wrote the words also invented the Dewey-decimal system’ (Haydn/library-classification enthusiast)
Your next chance to see the LSO is this Sunday 24 April as Sir Mark Elder conducts Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.