Wednesday 26 November 2008

I like Imogen Cooper

Last night I went to a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank and it was brilliant. It was a piano recital by Imogen Cooper (one of Pa’s favouritest pianists) and she was playing Schubert.

Now, I like Schubert, not as much as stompingly fabulous Beethoven however, but his music is lilting and entertaining, easy to listen to, and a visual feast if you are lucky to be seated on the keyboard side of a concert hall.

Now, what I didn’t know was that Schubert died at just 31, apparently from the complications of syphilis, but by this time he had written 600 lieder, nine symphonies – including the famous "Unfinished Symphony, liturgical music, operas, and a large quantity of chamber and solo piano music.

Phew – what a busy man he must have been – in all areas of his life!


Now, as I was saying, my Pa is a big fan of Imogen Cooper and he was meant to come yesterday too, but was feeling poorly so he sent Ma instead.

Being a music boff, Pa had booked excellent seats, with a clear view of the keyboard, so I was able to finger read the high bits that I had no hope of hearing in the reflection of the shiny-shiny Steinway & Sons piano. It was fascinating watching Cooper’s fingers fly over the keyboard with an enviable lightness and accuracy, and I found myself enveloped with sound.

How marvellous!

It’s at times like these that all my tantrums about being deaf seem totally trivial – after all, who cares about birds when you can have the left hand and a good deal of the right of a Schubert Sonata. And, aren’t I lucky to have a unique perception of how this music actually sounds? Seeing as I can only hear one octave above middle C I’m guessing it wasn’t as bass heavy as I thought, but still it sounded beautiful.

There is however one piece of music I draw the line at enjoying though, and that is Lakmé’s Flower Duet. It’s unbelieeeeeeeeeeeevably high and was once responsible for me nearly being kicked out of a concert.

To be fair, it was probably my fault, as the decision to go to the ‘Hand-bell ringing and soprano-singing’ concert was not one of my finest. After sitting listening to silence during the hand-bell ringing – all out of my frequency – these rather voluptuous ladies took to the stage and began to warble. The higher they sang, the higher their eyebrows got and the less I heard, so all I saw was these wobbling Miss Piggy look-alikes with eyebrows higher than their hairline.

Needless to say, I soon started to see the funny side of this and a chortle became a snort and even the sleeve of my jumper stuffed in my mouth failed to conceal the laughter literally splitting from my sides.

Hmmm, and this is where I should probably mention that I was unknowingly sat beside the sister of one of the mentioned warblers – who failed to see the funny side.

A few stern words were uttered and all I could do was nod at her, as it would have been too much effort to remove what was now nearly my whole jumper stuffed in my mouth.

As I was only about 15, it was horrible being told off by a random lady and I have never forgotten it. So now, if I am at a concert and I get the urge to burst out laughing/fall asleep/proclaim my disgust or all of the above – I leave. But luckily last night, I didn't!


Anonymous said...

I always get the urge to giggle or have a coughing fit during the long pauses between movements at a classical concert - I thought it was just me! Another fabulously funny post Girly!

John said...

Hi! I can't work out if you had my comments yesterday, so here they are again. I was at Imogen's concert too. I was married to her for a long time and we are very good friends. I am also deaf - having been severely deaf since I was a teenager.

Do get in touch if you'd like to. I'm at


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