Sunday, August 05, 2007

Shostakovich, wasps and bees, beautiful words

Last night at the Proms, the National Youth Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder performs Shostakovitch's Seventh "Leningrad" Symphony. I watch it on TV and listen with fascination and enjoyment as the conductor and young musicians concentrate on something outside themselves, yet driven by skills and understanding, which come from within. The structure and intelligence of the music kept making me want to know what was going to happen next. At the start of every movement, the conductor seemed gently to caress and mould the air in front of him as though something tangible yet fragile and invisible, was there.

On the radio someone refers to a schoolboy joke: what bees are to honey, wasps are to Marmite.

According to Henry James the two most beautiful words in the English language are "summer" and "afternoon". That applies this afternoon in the Grove, where pools of shade lie in the grass, and groups picnic under the trees. Conversation is gently, lazy; cries are muted and laughter moderate like softly splashing water.

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