Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Harkada intermezzo

While I pick myself up off the floor after the Leipzig Gewandhaus/Chailly Mahler 10 Prom - metaphorically, of course, since I stood in the Arena throughout, towards the end with tears well-nigh uncontrollably streaming - and collect my thoughts, I think we need a little boisterous light relief. So this minute-and-a-half film, fuzzy I know but capturing a certain spirit, allows me once again to say mazel tov to Susannah and Jamie, whose wedding I had the rare joy of attending (and acting as an unqualified humanist 'celebrant' for) on Saturday.

There were plenty of highlights: the accordionist who preceded the bride down the open-air aisle and accompanied her in a very touching 'La vie en rose' sung to the groom, the ensuing al fresco fun in St James's Park and the great beauty of the ICA's upstairs rooms for the rest of the reception. But what swept me away was the exuberance of the Israeli dancing or harkada hour and a half.

Above is the whirl in which the bride and groom hold a hanky high above the romping guests. Later most of us joined some rather more strictly choreographed routines with an expert, very tenacious caller. I haven't sweated so much in ages, and I lost the drift of the most complicated pattern, but boy, did it feel good afterwards. If only the classes weren't on the other side of London to us. For those near Golders Green - I once lived there, and loved it - take a look at the Strictly Israeli Dancing website and go along for a thorough workout. As they say, it's got to be more fun than the gym, and everyone's welcome.

All this was in marked contrast to the emotional wear and tear of the Mahler, and of the unbearably tense and aggressive wedding in James MacMillan's masterpiece of an opera, The Sacrifice. I'm steeped in it today as J MacM honoured me by asking if I'd write the notes for the impending Chandos release.

In the meantime, for more on the Mahler before tomorrow, read Gavin Plumley's Entartete Musik site. I'll only add for now that I agree with just about everything he has to say.

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