Chantal’s exciting evening

Rosamund Pike, Greg Wise, Chopin, AND getting pulled…

When my friend Elizabeth Passey suggested a evening at her local church, Christ Church Victoria Road, with a programme that sounded very tempting, I decided to follow my new year resolution of getting out more! I even persuaded some other friends with the great excuse of 4 children under the age to 5 to come…

The start of the evening was the classic one – JVB 20 minutes late back from work, our builder Tom made a pop up appearance asking for details on a job, which took another 10 minutes and then it started to snow. Arriving for pre-drinks without my phone (left charging at home in the rush to get out), we rang the doorbell, got no answer so decided to go straight to the church. It is a delightful hidden walk through Kynance Mews, which looked positively Dickensian in the falling snow, then up some hidden steps up to the church.

The soiree was conceived by Pianist Lucy Parham – it seems that we were being given what my children would describe as a “prequel”: a taste of what will be performed in July “Nocturne will receive its London première in the London Pianoforte Series at the Wigmore Hall in July 2010 – the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, with Harriet Walter and Rufus Sewell.”

Without wishing to spoil the twists and turns, it is a beautiful interwoven narrative with some of Chopin’s most poignant works, which kept the attention riveted over a couple of hours. Chopin seems to have been an angelic figure, pale and sickly with exquisite manners and dress, who hated performing to large audiences, another genius who died in poverty in Paris, aged 39. His famous love affair with George Sand brought to life through the letters and diaries. I found it moving and inspiring, and honoured to get an intimate glimpse into the life of this ephemeral composer. He had his heart cut out and send back to his beloved Poland, and Mozart’s requiem sung at his funeral. I will never listen to his music in the same way again.

Drinks and delicious canapés followed, and then we set off home escaping the earlier flurries of snow. Driving along Chelsea Embankment, the car was flagged down by the police, and I had the first breathalyser of my life! It seems that one of my bulbs had blown – there were half a dozen police men and women, the top cop being charming, courteous and comic, with his French accent, proper old fashioned Bobby’s helmet, and extremely tall stature. Having checked that I was who I professed to be, I was asked to “breathe hard into the tube until told to stop”. The reading measured zero, which was accurate, as I had not imbibed anything for at least 48 hours, and I asked if they would check my co-pilot. More than happy, they repeated the test, and JVB passed easily too, green (pass) came up on the screen, and we said our goodbyes and drove home.

Really too much excitement for one evening…

Future performances will take place at the British Library, St.George’s Bristol, Salisbury Playhouse, Beaumaris Festival, Sheffield Concert Series and Petworth Festival. Actors include Juliet Stevenson, Emily Bruni, Michael Maloney, Greg Wise and Rosamund Pike.

For more information http://www.lucyparham.com/nocturne.htm

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