notes from yesterday

A breezy, summer’s-last-hurrah day. A rare lie in, cups of tea, Radio 3. Late breakfast: wilted spinach and poached eggs on toast, to set us up nicely for the day’s cultural exertions.
First stop, the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair at Exmouth Market, organised by the excellent CB editions. An inspiring, if slightly overwhelming, event – more than 20 small poetry presses plying their wares, and free readings going on throughout the day. Half an hour’s browsing resulted in the purchase of six books, plus a good gathering of leaflets and postcards. Then upstairs to catch the final reading, by a trio of poets from Waterloo Press: Niall McDevitt, Philip Ruthen and Jeremy Reed. All intense performers of their work, in different ways. A bubble of concentrated poetic energy in a rather poky room above a church hall; Jeremy Reed bringing a flourish of glamour to the space, tossing handfuls of sequins up in the air to shower down on us mortals.
Next up, a free sauna courtesy of London Underground as we travelled to Embankment. Enjoyed the views and the cool air as we crossed Hungerford Bridge. Our final destination: the Royal Festival Hall for a concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The highlight for me was the UK premiere of Mar’eh for Violin and Orchestra by Matthias Pintscher. It’s extraordinarily exciting to hear a piece of music for the very first time and to be completely gripped by it. From my notebook immediately afterwards: edgy, liminal, marginal; breathy flute; scraped and scraping (strings); underplayed percussion; intense; chattering. Through it all the violin line, played by Julia Fischer. So much of the power of the piece came from the textural qualities of the music, and a kind of tentative, quiet delicacy. By contrast, the final piece in the concert, Scriabin‘s Prometheus (Poem of Fire) was a thrilling, full on, cataclysmic glory. Oh, and there was Beethoven and Liszt too. No wonder I feel shattered today.

half a dozen books in half an hour
spinach and saucily wobbly poached eggs

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