The day after England was released from its second national lockdown we went to a concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. It was a socially-distanced event attended by about 400 people in a hall with a capacity of 1700. Even members of orchestra sat two metres apart and wore face coverings until they had taken their seats. Nevertheless, it was an uplifting occasion with the conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Vasily Petrenko welcoming us back at the start of the concert. We listened to three pieces Variaciones concertantes by Ginastera; Il Tramonto by Respighi; and Carmen Suite for percussion and strings by Bizet and arranged by Shchedrin. I really enjoyed the first piece by Ginastera which I had not heard before; however, while listening to Jennifer Johnston singing Il Tramonto, I realised that I had no recall of the previous piece of music. As I sit writing, I cannot reproduce any of the sounds from the concert in my head, except for a few fuzzy sequences of Carmen that I had heard many times before, whereas I can ‘see’ the layout of the orchestra with Jennifer Johnston and Vasily Petrenko stood in front of them. My inability to recall sounds might explain why I struggle to speak any foreign languages or to remember the pronouncation of unfamilar words in English. Despite the fact that I cannot recall the music, the feelings of enjoyment remain as a memory and made me smile as I wrote this post.
Me too. I can remember words, numbers and images, but not music – except for tunes with memorable lyrics. I have often said that to become a “classic” a song has to have clear words, so that they can be remembered. We went to a distanced concert at the Phil some months ago but found it rather flat – and we couldn’t recognise our friends behind their masks.