Friday, November 20, 2009

Heard the Back Bay Chorale do a mix of Italian music "for cathedral, concert hall, and opera house." I was particularly struck by the Rossini liturgical piece O salutaris Hostia, clearly dramatic, yet spiritual. I also enjoyed the other Rossini pieces from Péchés de vielillesse ("Sins of Old Age"), especially the Toast for the New Year -- so light and festive. It was also nice to sit with friends (one of whom I thought would be singing) and listen to other folks I know singing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I enjoyed Boston Philharmonic's All Wagner Program. In particular, Siegfried's Funeral March is quite moving for me. I was disappointed that often I couldn't hear the soprano soloist that well, with the whole orchestra on stage rather than underneath.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Enjoyed the BSO's open rehearsal!

I was surprised at the long line for tickets twenty minutes before the start time -- it stretched outside nearly to the corner of the building, and it didn't seem to be moving very quickly. I was worried about missing the beginning. It was cool to see a mix of people from college age to older folks with canes lining up for the concert.

I made it in a couple minutes before the conductor got on stage. I was disappointed that the seats I wanted up close on the first balcony were taken by the time I got there (open rehearsals -- open seating), and the ones on the other side I spied from across the hall turned out to be reserved. I went to my go-to seats at the back of the second balcony.

I came mostly for the Honegger Pastorale d'été and Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No. 2, and was middling on the Stravinsky Petrushka (1947 version).

I was charmed by the Honegger. It had a gentle arc from quiet beginning to dance-y high point in the middle, back to calm. I reminded me a lot of Copland, but with a little more resonance or reverb. I thought a lot about how well this might work as a chamber ensemble arrangement, perhaps woodwind quintet plus string quartet and maybe string bass.

I was surprised by the Saint-Saëns on two counts. First, the composition itself more than met my expectations for a composition by him: well-crafted, intelligent, expressive, varied.

More memorable than the composition itself was the soloist, Lise de la Salle, 21 from France. She came on stage pretty casually with her hair loosely up in what looked like a bun, carrying her purse and wearing a baggy sweater in authoritative high heels. She sat down with poise. Then, wow.

I've heard a few virtuoso pianists in performances, but I don't remember being so impressed by one before. Incredible agility, power and grace. Go to a performance by her if you can!

After the first movement she took off her sweater to a few chuckles and tittering. Clearly she'd been working hard during the first movement, and under her sweater, she had a tighter one on that showed off her beautiful body.

The second movement was quite playful and charming and even from the back of symphony hall I could sense that she and the whole orchestra were enjoying the fun of the piece. At the remarkably cute ending, the audience laughed and chuckled out loud.

Apparently Ms de la Salle had been working hard on the second movement, too, because she then took off the second sweater, leaving herself in a thin-strapped little top. The audience laughed out loud, perhaps wondering, like I did, whether she'd take something else off after the third movement!

After the third movement, the audience was quick to applaud loudly, holler, and after the applause ended, talk excitedly into intermission. I don't recall the last time a classical performance has gotten so many people so excited.

The Stravinsky was well-done and familiar, but it just didn't grab me. I don't know why. I don't think I object to anything in it, but neither does anything really move me. (When I saw a couple of scenes by Basil Twist puppets, I was thoroughly engaged.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Danish organ music at King's Chapel in Boston was enjoyable enough. Nothing really grabbed me, and only one piece turned me off.