“You know the triangle is always late?” says Alexandre Bloch.
For about the 20th time today the poor triangulist has just had to sprint as quietly as possible from behind the vibraphone he’s just been playing, picking up a beater en route, in order to place a single dainty ting on the dangling polygon 10 metres away. So it’s not entirely surprising he’s a fraction of a second out every once in a while.
Bloch is no irritating pedant though and doesn’t insist. Besides, his 30 minutes are up and has done enough, I’m fairly sure, to see him through to the final. There’s an official prediction for you, although, what am I saying, there are still three more to come after him! Jonathan Lo is the first, one of four Britons in round two. As with everyone, he is asked to start with the Elgar, which he plays non-stop with such energy that he is, he complains, out of breath at the end (soloist Woroch, after his eighth go through Elgar’s almost symphonic first movement in one day, with two more to go, seems to be taking it in his stride, mind). He is another whose decisive movements serve well in modern music and he seems very much at home in it today.
The third British representative, Gemma New, makes her appearance before Bloch. And like Bloch, she conducts a mean Elgar violin concerto. The temptation with this piece must be to think of it as all grand sweeps and surges but New recognises that precision of attack and articulation is also important – Elgar orchestral parts carry an array of accent marks and so on, each indicating a very particular way of playing, and she emphasises the point (so to speak) today. That’s all very well, but if the orchestra don’t respond, you can have all the ideas you want. Today they do respond, and the music sounds noticeably different thanks to her intervention.