Quite a week, this one. The morning after the prodigy wonder on TV, some major drama took place at the LPO: Maria Joao Pires cancelled her Chopin Second Concerto at about two days' notice. What pianist can fly in and play this piece in just 48 hours?
Tim Walker, the LPO chief exec, made an inspired choice: Nelson Goerner, Argentinian, in his early 30s, an Argerich protege and one of the younger pianists I most admire. Personally I felt that the conductor, Emanuel Krivine, could have given him a little more space to breathe, but he played wonderfully, with a clear and singing tone and a super balance between energy and poetry. I interviewed Nelson a couple of years ago for International Piano and found him delightful, completely unpretentious and straightforward yet someone who 'really knows' music. He's short in stature but great of heart. We hope he'll come back soon.
The same concert was important to me as well: this was my LPO debut. At last they asked me to write some programme notes! Dearly as I love my orchestra-in-law, it's impossible, if you go to lots of their concerts, not to notice that most of their programme notes have been recycled over years and years, and are now a little dated and not quite the thing for a modern audience... So I hope that that policy is changing and it was wonderful to have the chance to research this programme - four of my biggest favourites, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Ravel and Debussy.
Programme notes are the only thing a music journalist can write and then see a hall-full of people actually reading. My most frightening programme note moment: a few years ago I did notes for a Faure song series at the Wigmore and arrived one evening to spot, a few rows in front of me, Vikram Seth...
A BIG PARTY last night to launch the 2004 Proms, and great fun it was. There's a 'silk road' strand to it, which involves Yo-Yo Ma's latest world-music ensemble, and as the British Library is having a silk road exhibition, the party happened in the British Library foyer, crowded but buzzing. Lots of champagne, beer and truly excellent canapes - and of course this is one of the prime music biz networking events of the year. Even Norman Lebrecht was there.
In between talking gossip and scandal, frustration and excitement and Who Did What To Whom, proms director Nick Kenyon ('old Nick' to the biz) announced a programme that I for one think looks a lot of fun. A few things jumped out at me: Truls Mork playing the Dvorak concerto, Paul Lewis playing some Mozart, the Glyndebourne Prom with the scrumptious Vladimir Jurowski conducting the Puccini/Rachmaninov double bill from the forthcoming season, and, rather to my satisfaction, lots of Elgar! No Faure or Korngold, of course, but you can't have everything...I keep hoping....
MEANWHILE, MANY THANKS to everyone who dropped me a line to wish my shoulder better. Glad to say that it is making excellent progress, under the ministrations of a fabulous local physiotherapist who also looks after the British Olympic rowing team.