Waterloo Station in early morning is one mad place and makes Grand Central look a bit twee. As I was fighting upstream in a river of London-bound commuters, finding the right train was a bit difficult but soon I was out to Teddington, a leafy borough of southeast London. Pleased with myself and perhaps a bit smug that I made it, I got off and called Gramophone who were arranging to pick me up. It was then that I realized that I had disembarked at the wrong stop – Twickenham, a few km away from Teddington. Ben Guynan found me and picked me up for a terrific breakfast in the right town.
Gramophone, and Haymarket, the large publishing group, has their offices on the banks of the Thames, where a weir creates a great waterfall just off the parking lot. This is the tidal limit of the river and one could skip a stone to the wooded other side without much effort at all.
Reviews editor Andrew Mellor gave me an excellent tour of the operation, introducing me to several colleagues whose work I have admired for years. I was pleased to put my new Delos disc into the hands of several people there. Most fascinating was the recording library that may well have a copy of every classical CD in print and out, each title on massive and movable metal shelves. The librarian has them categorized by label in a pretty fascinating system of organization. It was interesting to find 7000 Naxos titles neatly arranged in one cabinet. The walk through town through the train station was gorgeous – it’s clear that this is an area for the uber-wealthy.
Kensington is also in west London but getting there from the far southeast is a bit of navigational hazard and a long time. I transferred from the National Rail to the District line at Wimbledon and headed up to one of my favorite parts of all of London. It was great to visit the newish offices of Warner Classics, have a great lunch with my friends there and to discuss some business. The office literally backs into Hyde Park.
Though my feet were aching I decided to walk through Knightsbridge to have a look at the Royal College of Music and the museums there. The Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert are two of London’s largest and most impressive edifices. Though I didn’t have time, I ducked into the V&A for the shortest look at the David Bowie exhibit.
After a pub meal, I walked along the embankment, underneath the awe-inspiring, golden bulk of Parliament to St. John’s Smith Square, nestled in a quiet block of Westminster behind the abbey.
Genevieve Helsby, my Naxos colleague, had told me she was singing in a choir here tonight. Other plans had fallen through so I made it for the second half of the concert by the Orchestra of St. John’s in a sublime performance of the Faure Requiem, in my opinion one of the most perfectly crafted and inspiring works of history. In what would be an emotional reaction to the piece, I had to duck outside after the In Paradisum conclusion. Some paradise or nothingness surely must embrace my great friend Peter Moss, and who left us exactly two years ago.
— Sean Hickey