The London Symphony Orchestra has put online a tender, seven-minute film that Tommy Pearson made during concert performances of Weber’s Freischütz at the Barbican, apparently the last opera that Colin ever conducted. He loved the work, he tells Tommy, and regarded it as the cornerstone of German opera.
Tommy adds: Making the film was extremely emotional for me since, of course, it features Colin Davis heavily. Watching all the rushes – I had a camera on him for much of the concert – was at once heartbreaking and exhilarating. Colin looks terrific; energised, funny, full of spark and with all his trademark expressions (particularly silly when dealing with the chorus!). There was one wonderful moment – not in the finished film – when Colin nearly brought the whole orchestra in for the next section, forgetting completely that the narrator had a passage to read first. Colin lifted both hands to bring the LSO in, but at the last minute (when the narrator jumped in) kept his hands by his head and itched his ears – as if he’d meant to do that all along. His facial expression suggested he’d just about got away with it!
I have so many memories of interviewing Colin, on radio and TV and working with him on lots of online films. Making this one was hard. But I hope it goes some way to reminding people of his wonderful stage manner and technique, those piercing eyes and cheeky grin, that we all loved. What a great loss to music.