On Sunday, walking our tiny granddaughter through the streets of Vigo we spotted the programme for what used to be called the Centro Cultural CaixaNova. No doubt it has some other bank-related name now. There was a concert advertised for Thursday, last night, so on Wednesday we went on line and booked tickets, Phil being careful to enter all his details correctly. The last time we did this he managed to give an incorrect email address and we never received the tickets but had to show a print-out of our order to the chap in the booking office.
So last night off we went, printed tickets in hand. The Real Filharmonia de Galicia was playing a mixed menu. There was a bit of Messaien, very cheerful and jangly and occasionally even discordant. The conductor, an English man named Paul Daniel (not to be confused, as his Wikipedia page points out, with annoying "magician" Paul Daniels) said that it was full of joy and expressed their delight at being in Vigo where the audience is always so appreciative. The next piece, by Sibelius, he described as a nightmare and encouraged us to imagine ourselves lost in a dark forest where dire and terrible things were coming out of our fantasy to harass us. And finally, after two unfamiliar pieces, a very well known Beethoven's 5th - da, da, da, DAA! A piece forever associated for me with a French advert for clothes pegs. This is because a French friend of ours spent several weeks of one summer singing, "La pince à LINGE!"
It was all very well done, quite magnificent in fact. Our compatriot conductor, who managed to say "Moitas grazas" but then relied on his first violinist to translate everything he said. Almost elfin in some ways, one of the tall elves as in Lord of the Rings not the little pixie-like creatures, he reminded Phil of Roald Dahl's BFG! The BIg Friendly Giant, except that he did not have the ears for it. Once Phil had made the comparison, I immediately saw Paul Daniel as a Quentin Blake cartoon figure, all angular and spiky. His conducting was animated, a lot of swaying, bobbing up and down and appearing to sing along with the music under his breath. He leant in to encourage sections of the orchestra and even up close and personal to individual musicians. I wondered if he actually made eye contact, in which case, had I been the musician I might have found it hard to keep my face straight. At times he put his finger to his lips to hush the musicians before raising them up to a crescendo once more. As the orchestra played the Beethoven, it was as if the conductor was finding new and fresh enjoyment in the music. It must be wonderful to enjoy your work so much. All in all, a fine performance!
At the interval, we went a stood outside, there being no refreshments on sale, and stood apart from the many smokers. Taking another look at the programme on the wall, I discovered that on Saturday we had missed a concert by the guitarist Paco Ibañez. Had we known that this was on and had we been able to obtain tickets, we might have told our sine and family to fend for themselves while we went out to hear the great man, a "cantautor", singer-songwriter, perform old favourites and possible some new stuff.
But it was not to be. You can't always get what you want.