Thursday, February 26, 2009

Leaving on a jet plane (not quite yet)

At work I've been told I have to take some of my long-service leave so I've decided to join B&P on part of their trip. I'll be meeting them in Dinan, in Normandy, before we go to Bilbao and Madrid. Afterwards I'm hoping to catch up with GMcD in Tours before heading off to Britain to catch up with my cousins, in St Andrews and Derby.

It's early days yet, but I've got my air ticket booked - that's a start. There are also a couple of hotel rooms in Spain booked but I need to get cracking and do a few more bookings. Wish me luck.


Mum, at Christmas


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Upshaw + ACO = musical bliss

On Monday night DG came down from Castlemaine and we had quick meal in Degraves Street before heading off to Hamer Hall to hear Dawn Upshaw singing with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. 
She sang three songs written for her by the Argentinian Osvaldo Golijov which were very interesting and very enjoyable, the klezmer influence adding extra spice. Then the ACO played Mozart's Symphony No. 29 - it was a taut, crisp performance with natural horns and period oboes and very enjoyable.
After interval Upshaw returned for a set of folksong settings by Bartok, arranged for string orchestra by Richard Tognetti. These songs were completely different in mood from the Golijov, much sparer, but no less enjoyable. Tognetti's arrangements were stunning. Upshaw's control is truly amazing; she's a very generous performer, singing as part of the ensemble, not as a soloist, and makes a real connection with the audience.
Then the ACO played Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, again in an exciting performance.
The night finished with Upshaw returning to sing Richard Strauss' Morgen, with Tognetti lyrically playing the solo. 
Strauss performed on gut strings, at A=430, and with two natural horns, what a thought!
The ACO is certainly one of our national treasures - it's been a couple of years since I've heard them and they've have only got better. I must try to get to more of their concerts this year.

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Record heat

Today was ghastly, and the state experienced its highest temperatures ever - 46.4 C in Melbourne (for older Australians and overseas readers that's 115.5 F).

I went shopping with P&B this morning after which I had lunch with AB, MM and DL at The Commoner. The meal was delicious, as expected, and it was great to catch up with DL. 

However afterwards I had to stand in the heat for about 10 minutes waiting for a bus to take me down to visit Mum. At least it was cool in the bus, and of course at Good Shepherd. Mum is very chirpy and now has both her hearing aids back in working order, thanks to nephew SP who took them to the hearing service for a service.

There have been several bad fires around the state, some threatening the city's power supply, so I might have to entertain myself soon. My poor garden is looking a bit sad, although the tomatoes, thyme, marjoram, tarragon and, surprisingly, English spinach, are relatively unscathed; the basil is positively thriving. 

Let's hope this has been the worst of it for the year.

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