I was already looking forward to tonight’s performance of the Saint-Saëns ‘Organ Symphony’ because it was one of my husband Carl’s and my ‘songs’ when we were dating. Years later I was fortunate enough to play this piece with the Honolulu Symphony, and my usual preparation included playing a recording of it at least a hundred times before going to the first orchestra rehearsal.
But knowing the music did not prepare for me for tonight’s performance by the Philharmonia Orchestra, directed by Jérémie Rhorer, which was off the charts in terms of exuberance and excitement! He whipped the orchestra and us in the audience into a frenzy—as Rick Cicinelli said, “like trying to put a lid on a pot of boiling water!”
Never have I heard such a performance!
The fact that it was done in a cathedral with reverberant acoustics and a massive cathedral organ contributed to the overall scale and impression of this popular work, Saint-Saëns’ only symphony. Wayne Marshall, the organist, pulled out all the stops literally and figuratively to contribute to a fantastic performance, the likes of which I’ll probably never hear again.
Also on the program was Poulenc’s ‘Organ Concerto’ which was equally exciting. We commented that it’s a work we heard a lot of—about 40 years ago, but not much in recent years. Wayne Marshall played a brilliant cadenza which seemed to last at least five minutes.
The concert opened with a beautiful tone poem, Aurora, by William Lloyd Webber.
Earlier in the day I walked all over the town of Worcester, partly exploring and partly looking for St. Martin’s Church where I had signed up to hear an organ recital. I eventually found it after walking 6.8 miles today—mostly uphill! Boy, my legs are really in good shape.
I also went to Evensong and heard the three cathedral choirs sing Charles Villiers Stanford in A, and an anthem by William Lloyd Webber.
I have to tell you that I’m only scratching the surface in terms of events at the Three Choirs Festival. Tomorrow I will go to 5 events and have attended 3 events for each of the last 3 days. However, there are as many as 10 or 11 events each day, including lectures, recitals, concerts, activities for children and garden tours.
Obviously I am spending time working on this blog in addition to just taking it easy.