By mid-August, concert life in the UK has narrowed down to two basic locations: the Edinburgh Festival, and the Royal Albert Hall. Having already been to the Proms, I wasn’t planning on going to Edinburgh until ten days ago and out of the blue I received a review commission that…well, let’s just say I couldn’t refuse. Watch this space for more details.
A lot’s changed in Edinburgh since I last went to the Festival in 2004. The new trams, whatever their troubled history, are a huge asset to the city, and very handy indeed when sky-high August hotel prices have driven you out to the wilds of Haymarket. But it’s still just as hard to find somewhere decent to eat when you’ve emerged from a show that finishes at 10.30pm – and at my advanced age, my preferred Edinburgh late-night snack of deep-fried white pudding is no longer an option. Nor too is lobster and chips, at least not every day. Sadly…
And the place is still as maddening and exhilarating as ever in Festival season. I was delighted to bump into my colleague Anna Picard for the first time in person (rather than on Twitter) and I managed to duck out of the mayhem of the Royal Mile for a couple of hours for an afternoon catch-up and pint with a particularly brilliant conductor friend – bringing the Halle Youth Orchestra to town as part of a summer tour.
Anyhow – watch this space for my Edinburgh report. Meanwhile, we headed up the road again to beautiful Buxton to raid Scrivener’s bookshop (surely the only second-hand bookshop in the UK equipped with a fully-functioning harmonium) and see HMS Pinafore – it being a basic maxim of mine never to miss a chance to see G&S done professionally. Happily, at The Arts Desk, I have an editor who understands exactly where I’m coming from.
I’ve also been writing about Berio’s Folk Songs and Vaughan Williams’ Eighth Symphony for the RLPO, and interviewing Vladimir Jurowski about Mahler for the LPO’s in-house magazine – always an astonishingly insightful and provocative (in the best possible way) interviewee. Oh and my official birthday tribute to my beloved Alexander Glazunov has gone live on The Amati Magazine – a bit of self-indulgence, very generously indulged by my terrific editor Jessica Duchen. Next stop: Rachmaninoff, Martinu and Rebecca Clarke!