What a privilege to see Lauren Zhang play this wonderful Piano Concerto that few people have properly absorbed through screens or sound systems let alone in a live performance as I did on Sunday afternoon! The Symphony Hall, Birmingham, was the place to be, and I had travelled there specially for it from Clacton on Sea to see this performance. The fingers flowing like dream images over the keyboard, a vision that was within my position of sight opposite the left of the stage and, I am not a technical musician, but it was with a sound that twisted and teased my mind as bolstered by the perfect machinations of the CBSO Youth Orchestra conducted by Andrew Gourlay. It was like easing a complex book of kaleidoscopic poetry into the ears towards the soul that had already been subconsciously primed for such an experience, confident that it would be played impossibly well, with all its spiritual (and no doubt technical) trapdoors paradoxically exploited and obviated simultaneously.
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was played to me at school quite out of the blue when I was 15 in 1963 and my taste in music had begun! This performance, with its flair and enthusiasm, the hall’s fine acoustics, and the sheer inspiration of a perfect moment in time that was simply meant to be, was a happening that I found it hard to imagine was not the greatest performance of this piece ever! Surely, it was. Sometimes you know there can be no doubt about believing something special that still, even today, is thundering or pixilating in your ears with its wild and sometimes tamer extasy. The picked-out bassoon sinuosity and a bass-drum thud alike. And much more.