London PROMS Finzi & Apples, Moeran & Trains

Love affair with London continues, with opening of Prom season. Part and parcel is the ease and delight of getting there. Biking down Millionaires spacious tree lined luxury road, into the democratic park with other bicycle commuters, dog walkers, nature: 8 mins door to door. Recognising the same ticket touts outside. Chatting to another waiting for another late arrival, who gave insight to the music.

My late arrival was Rupert. We had a delightful picnic in the dappled shade of a Hyde Park Plain tree, catching up on lives of common friends. With such a time lapse (5 years since a good meet?) a perspective evolves in the different stories.

Moeran was new for both of us. His symphony was like film music, with some Gershwin upbeat jazz in parts. Like a collection of stories. I am more interested in his life – with strong personal echoes for me: Born and raised in Norfolk of Irish roots.

Finzi’s Toccata. He sure knew how to end. A great gift that i need to practice myself. I loved the energetic Toccata, with its warm echos of the English fields and downs I hear in his Clarinet concerto.

FINZI: As with Finzi’s favourite poet, Hardy, a sense of urgency may be
sensed in his music; a keen awareness of the transcience and frailty
of life. A further pre-occupation, is the theme of man’s experience
tarnishing the innocent experience of childhood. Both themes may be
traced to Finzi’s youth when the deaths of father, three brothers and
teacher made an indelible impression on him.

Indefatigable that nothing good should be lost, Finzi’s energetic mind
went far beyond his compositions. He was an ardent champion of
neglected composers; fostered young talent like Kenneth Leighton; he
collected a unique and valuable library of English poetry, philosophy
and literature whose 3000 volumes are now housed at Reading
University. And not the least he rescued the stock of several English
apples from extinction. For Finzi the choice and the rare, be it
music, fine writing or simply a sweet tasting apple were joys to

Although English and middle-class, Moeran was at ease in a bar
surrounded by local characters from local farms. Indeed, until 2007,
“Moeran’s Bar” at the hotel in Kenmare where he lived was named after
him. He was looked on with affection by all who knew him, and his
gauche, bumbling personality belied a very sharp-witted character who
was quick to learn and take up new approaches to music. He also had an
encyclopaedic knowledge of trains and train timetables.

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