Monday, October 24, 2005

Piano Concerto

Russia came to Aberdeen last Friday as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra hosted a concert at Aberdeens Music Hall. The night opened with challenging listening, (as I describe it), as the Orchestra played Lindbergs Arena. I think us humans are naturally tuned to regular rhythm and smooth continuous vibrations of sound. Arena challenges that and gives joy in technical skill and the tuneful clashing of instruments, tempo and rhythm. The audience gave a polite applause.

An anticipatory quiet filled the hall as we awaited Nikolai Lugansky to take to the stage. The Grand piano was placed center stage. Nikolai entered and with nonchalant strides took to his seat where he adjusted it up, up, down, up, down, up before composing himself and nodding his readiness to the conductor.
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.4 the piece waiting to be expressed. The first notes were played and the audience was captured. A good balance between the piano and orchestra was established as the Conerto's continuous beats, runs and scales blended together. As the tempo quickened, Nikolai bounced more frantically on his seat as he rattled up the keys before gently finishing of a section. Center stage, soloist have no where to hid as they reveal their naked self in the notes. I admire their courage and showmanship.

The Concerto rallied to its close, all musicians on stage intensely involved and all under the control of the Conductor, Roberto Spano. So much energy, so much emotion filled the stage and Nikolai was completely adsorb, the final chord. The applause mirrored the intensity that had just been heard and after three ovations, Nikolai treated us to solo performance. Delicate, light, beautiful notes floated through the quietest of silences. It was like the music was leading you to the land of dreams and that all dreams had landed in the Music Hall at that moment such was the atmosphere.

As the final note slipped away the applause gathered. There was a buzz during the interval. The Orchestra regrouped to finish with Sibelius, Symphony No.2. Where Arena sounded disjointed Sibelius flowed majestically throughout, lots of variety and each section of the orchestra got its turn to lead before uniting to give a classical finale. An evening of entertainment that surpassed all my expectations.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

River Dee Walk at Aboyne

A bit out of order but before heading up Mortlich Hill, see previous post I warmed up the legs the day before on the flat as I walk a few miles along the banks of the River Dee from the West of Aboyne to the most Eastern side. Dampness was hanging around but the banks where brighten by some warming autumn colors.

The river had been near bursting its bank point earlier in the week as the drift wood was lying high on the river bank. On the way back I walk through the heart of the village where the village Green was fenced in my a ring of autumn colors. View pictures from the walk here.

Mortlich Walk

originally uploaded by

The second of my weekend walks was a rare visit to the North side of the Aboyne to Mortlich Hill. This picture shows Mortlich from Aboyne Golf club with the 17th hole lined by Autumn colors in the fore ground. Walking on the north side of the river Dee valley is a completely different experience from walking on the Fungle side. Mortlich does not reach the same altitude at a mere 1000ft but the walk packs in a lot of variety.

A flat walk through Aboyne takes you to Aboyne Golf club along side Aboyne Loch. Catch the Loch on a calm day and you will find a liquid Mortlich reflecting on its waters. The first, steepish climb takes you through bracken clad hillside with silver brich trees. As the ground flattens out modern fir plantation darkens the path in shade, all year round but this soon opens into a plateau of old birch, long grasses and ferns tracking burns and boggy areas. Just at the base of the next climb an old farm or bothy ruin lies tangled in bushes and vines. The trees disappear as the path inclines into the hill. At this time of the year the hill is rusty dressed in bracken ferns. A fence gives the opportunity to rest and to look across Aboyne to the magical fungle and to be honest you see Deeside more or less completely from east to west (on a clear day). Next is one of the steepest climbs I know of and funnily enough trees reappear, old and new Scot's Pine standing in a carpet of heather. Bright purple in late summer. A cairn adorns the summit, amongst the granite an old metal crest weathered and broken lies. Today the view was hugged in mist but the odd ray of sun shine pierced through.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Conservative Party Leader

The Conservative Party used lasts week conference to give their 5, now 4 leadership contenders a platform to make their pitch to members and the viewing public. While I don't have a vote this time, I predict David Cameron will win.

There has been a big debate in the Conservative Party about whether the members or MP's should get the final say in selecting the leader. This is due to three thumping defeats at General Elections that some put down to the election of, as they see it weak leaders in the past by the members. However, members keep the final say but I would remind MP's they will draw up the short list, so it's really a shared process.

One final prediction. One of the key Conservative themes will be Tax Simplification at the next General Election. Looking far into the future this will give a platform to change the tax system from an Income tax based system to an Expenditure tax based economy. This will be a global trend driven by globalization and environmental issues.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Roof of Mid Deeside

I got out in to the hills yesterday, the first lengthy walk (3 hours) I've undertaken for a few weeks. The choice of walk was The Roof of Mid Deeside, use this link to view a slide show of the walk.

The walk starts by heading up the
Fungle and then you follow the southern rim of the Dee valley westward. Below a patchwork quit patterns the land with glimpses of the river as it snakes across the land. The walks has many endings but I chose to head down quickly into Glentanner with scenic views of Morven with Loch Kinnord at its base. The wind dropped later to leave a sunny October afternoon that warmed the spirit as well as the heart.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Aboyne Walks

originally uploaded by

The gateway to all my walks on the south side of the Dee Valley start with a walk up the Fungle. It's a great word Fungle, replace the F with a J, and you get Jungle and the walks itself has a Jungle feel. The burn tumbles over waterfalls and rocks to produce constant sound and the water encourages a range of broad leaf ferns in the shade of old birch, oak, maple trees lower down with plantation style firs higher up.

And your legs will know you are heading higher. There are two notable, leg burning, steep sections that quickly elevate you from the flat valley floor to the moor and heath land plateaus. By good fortune a local forebairn of Aboyne invested his wealth in the appropriately named, Rest & be Thankful resting spot, complete with scenic views of Aboyne Village.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Fiddle Tunes

Scottish Country Dance Tunes is what I mainly play on my fiddle. I've posted some recordings on my website. My Granda, John Littlejohn started me off playing at the age of 11. He was a founding player at Banchory Strathspey & Reel Society and when aged around 13 I also joined. I don't make many practice sessions these days but I always enjoy the practice when I do.