I went to London again today. I had a ticket for a lunchtime concert at LSO St Lukes, my last of the present season, which was booked ages ago, and it just so happened that yesterday was the only day that suited both my friend and me to go to Dulwich before the Astrup exhibition closed.
It was the final concert in their series Elgar Up Close, featuring Elgar's chamber music, which is generally less well known than his orchestral and choral works. Certainly I didn't recall having ever heard his String Quartet on radio 3, though that doesn't prove a lot because I don't have a great memory for classical music. I hadn't heard of today's musicians either, the Elias Quartet, which again doesn't prove much since my knowledge of the world of string quartets is patchy. They are relatively young and were BBC New Generation Artists a few years ago.
Anyway, from my starting point of ignorance I liked them, and the Elgar, and the Purcell Fantasias that preceded it. They gave us an encore too, of two Scottish tunes, at which my folkie's ear pricked up, for with the first we finally got to something that I recognised. The second violin took the lead for the folk encore, and looking him up on their their website I see that he grew up in the Scottish highlands. son of a Gaelic singer and teacher, so while he went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music he was singing traditional music from when he could speak. You can hear the concert as the Radio 3 lunchtime concert on Friday 13 May, though I don't know if that will include the encore.
Thence to the British Museum where Sicily: culture and conquest has now opened. It focuses on two periods in Sicily's history, the era of Greek and Phoenician rule, and the eleventh century conquest by the Normans and subsequent golden age. Stories of the Mediterranean melting pot are generally fascinating, and Sicily's history is as complex as any. In fact, it is surely crying out for Simon Sebag Montefiore to make a series on it. Some of the artefacts produced during both periods were quite lovely, though none so beautiful as the Myota charioteer loaned by its Sicilian museum owner to the British Museum for the duration of the Olympics. In this show it appears only as a photograph. This exhibition still has plenty of time to run, until mid August, and it is well worth seeing.
Addendum Our Ginger caught two rabbits in the night, leaving one laid out in front of the television and the other lying disembowelled on the lawn. The Systems Administrator tells me that this afternoon as the SA sat out on the terrace, Our Ginger strode past purposefully, and reappeared fifteen minutes later with a third small rabbit clamped in his jaws, which he deposited in front of the TV, where they both admired it for a bit before the SA tidied the body away.