Written by Ellis Ian Fields
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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

image for Simon Rattle/Berlin Philharmonic - Barbican

Stravinsky: Apollon Musagete (1947)
Mahler: Symphony No 4.

Arguably the world's greatest orchestra is in London for a few days, showing us, among other things, Sir Simon's latest work on the Mahler cycle - some of which he demonstrated at last summer's Proms.

Pierre Noxious writes:

So the biggest names in orchestral music are in town for a few days and everyone's falling over themselves to get a piece.

It's not as though Sir Simon and co are never here, is it? I mean, they did a couple of Proms only a few months ago.

But here they are again, doing a four-night stint at the South Bank Centre and the Barbican (some logistics outfit is making a mint moving that lot back and forth between them).

What do they want to do that for, anyway? Messed me up big time... I went to the Festival Hall, only to realise I had to be at the Barbican! Cost me a fortune in taxis!

Then I'm asked to have a word with Sir Simon over this spat with Ringo Starr (see news section - ed).

What's it all about? Liverpool! That's what.

Tell you what I know about Liverpool... pubs!

I first went many years ago when I was a student. A Liverpudlian mate took me for the weekend and he drove me around in his dad's Morris Half-ton, or something (no driving licence, left the handbrake on. Brilliant).

Two boozers in particular figured on that trip. The Hole in the Wall, where the only women allowed were behind the bar and where we met two likely lads - one big, burly, softly spoken, but 100 per cent Scouse and his dapper, trilby-wearing, posh-speaking mate - who were selling punnets of mushrooms from a big potato sack by the real coal fire!

Then there was Scarlett's Bar where we tried to pick up a couple of birds one night, but they were infatuated by the latest talent show sensation (yes, even back then) The Real Thing, because they came from their neck of the woods.

More recently, I've been taken to what claims to be the Beatles' favourite watering hole - The Grapes, is it? - for a pint and a chip butty.

But more relevant, I suppose, to this review is the Philharmonic - a huge, ornate cavern of a joint near the concert hall of the same name. The attraction here (apart from the beer) is the urinals in the gents'. That's right - they're original Victorian and are a very pretty red marble.

My chum, who had taken us, even checked with the landlord and took my missus in to have a look! She was... underwhelmed!

Still. I don't know. Liverpool's one of those places, isn't it? I just like it. Suppose it's because I come from a port city myself.

Oh yes - the gig...

The Mahler - very good. Well done Sir Si!

As for the Stravinsky, which is what I really went for - sorry, I was on the blower filing my copy for the Ringo story.

(Ringo Starr Vs Simon Rattle: Scouse Faves Duke It Out! Entertainment section today.)

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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