Saturday – Enfield – SSO – Bronfman – Robertson

On Saturday afternoon D and I took a walk by a circuitous route from Claremont Road, Burwood Heights to St Thomas’ Chuch, Enfield and back. I calculate the way we took at about 4 km all up.

This started from a locale spotted on our previous walk from Croydon – the mysterious and ever-so-slightly-laughable Burwood Heights. Laughable though it may be, on the ground you can feel a distinction typified by the larger houses and better streets on the ridge which crosses Liverpool Road just east of Burwood Road which corresponds to the area covered by the name.

Claremont Road itself is on the ridge and has city views. There are some quite solid houses here. I particularly admired the slate rooves.

Were they not Burwood Heights, those parts of Burwood Heights south of Liverpool Road could easily be known as Croydon Park or Enfield.  As we descended to Enfield, we experienced retrospectively the distinction which “Burwood Heights” seeks to maintain. The terrain becomes very much plainer. The houses also become humbler, though not without some charm.

There is an amazingly large amount of parkland in Enfield. I have racked my brains so far in vain for some previous land use sufficiently noxious but now obsolete to have brought this about. The main park area includes an “Olympic” swimming pool which presumably has some indoor heated pool for winter. The outside pool was empty but I was told it would be filled in late September. It appears from the picture at the head of this post that there was once an entity called “Enfield Municipal Council.”

St Thomas’s [Anglican] Church is often overlooked – D had frequently driven down Coronation Parade and not known any church or graveyard to be there. – It was quite shut up, so there were to be no Larkinesque or even Betjemanesque moments for us apart from a little examination of the cemetery.

We returned by a slightly different and ultimately more southernward route which took us into parts of Croydon Park – an area which seems more well favoured than Enfield but not as well so as “Burwood Heights.”

We were home by about 4.30, leaving time for a short nap to revive our spirits before going to hear the SSO in the evening. Unfortunately, when the time came to get up, D found that a rather demanding week at work had caught up with him, and that he was too tired to sally forth again. I did try a little lingering in case he changed his mind, but that did not happen.

Fortunately, I was able to rope in Dq as a substitute companion. Dq has proved my best bet as a last-minute substitute for a year or so now. In part it is because a free seat has particular attraction to him (because he is young and therefore relatively speaking poor), and also that, in comparison to older even (as Dq is) single friends, he’s more ready to take up a last minute invitation. You aren’t so flexible when you get older, and people who are a couple or one of a couple are even harder to shift at short notice.

As a result of the lingering I missed the pre-concert talk. I apologize to my time-to-time commenter, Thom, who extended an invitation to that.

That was almost certainly my loss, since the talk must surely have dealt even a little with the plot of The Firebird, which the program note remarkably failed to do beyond listing the scenes by title.

One sign of how seriously the orchestra take a particular concert or visiting conductor is the line-up which fronts. The Sydney International Piano Competition got very much the budget and second-eleven versions of the SSO. I wonder whether this is a sensible position for the orchestra to put itself in. Perhaps it ought to take these competitions more seriously as a public relations opportunity.

A key indicator has often been whether both principal celli are on deck. At present there seem to be three principal celli and all three of them were there, as well as all the principal woodwinds and not to mention the more refined principal trumpeter (the other one, who is not without his own particular strengths, seems to have been leading the offstage band).

The orchestra and the soloist played splendidly in an ultra-delightful program. For the record, that was:
Tchaikovsky, Piano Concerto No 1 (changed from initially advertised Bartók No 2); and Stravinsky, The Firebird, (the full ballet music rather than any of the suites).

I do wonder why the SSO couldn’t or didn’t get Bronfman to play in their International Pianists recital series. Honourable exceptions aside, over the years the soloists in the piano series, once chosen from the top of the SSO’s pianistic roster, have increasingly been drawn from its junior end. Is it not possible to get the top players to play for a fee which can be recouped at Angel Place? (When Thibaudet played the SSO tried shifting to the Concert Hall.) Possibly some virtuosi no longer find it cost-effective to prepare recital programs at all.

After the concert, I rushed to Hunter’s Hill Town Hall for the very tail-end of a 70th birthday celebration for my one-time piano teacher (from 33 years ago to 30 years ago), Neta Maughan. It was a pity I couldn’t get to this earlier. By the time I arrived the formal proceedings were over.

The thing which really struck me, having long been away from the piano lesson caper, was the enormous number of children rushing around. Neta told me she is still teaching along with 6 of her better students who work as, as best as I can understand it, junior or assistant teachers. The category is a blurry one and Neta’s studio system and the phenomenon of her teaching are topics to which I would need to devote a whole fresh post if I were bold enough to attempt to describe them.

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