Sunday, January 31, 2010

Went to Mark Morris Mozart Dances at the Opera House with Mark L.

I was most engaged by the first piece, Eleven, and enjoyed how the solo piano was portrayed by the solo dancer, and how the rhythmic and melodic echoes in the orchestra were echoed by the movements of the dancers.

In the second piece, Double, I particularly liked how groups of six would come together, break apart, circle, and intertwine with one another in so many variations.

Seeing some of the playfulness and not-quite-ballet-ness of a lot of the dancing had me wondering whether Mark Morris was just having fun, or whether there was an element of mocking traditional ballet forms, too. Hmm...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Went to the BSO's Ravel, Berlioz, Carter concert.

I was a little discouraged when I arrived to see the conductor, James Levine, getting out of a black Cadillac and looking awkward and weak as he was helped across a patch of ice to the stage door of Symphony Hall. I know he's been recovering from back trouble, and I worried about how he'd lead the orchestra.

I don't understand the appeal of the Carter Dialogues. It sounded like an orchestral setting of a BS session at a bar or stoop or extended family meal table. I couldn't pick out an arc or a story or development. It seemed to me just one thing after another, with an occasional echo or embellishment. I don't get it.

I was expecting to like the Berlioz Harold in Italy. I was impressed at the delicacy and quietness of some of the passages (how can so many people playing together sound that sweet and ethereal?), but overall it didn't move me. It sounded to me like accompaniment to something else, and I missed the something else.

I really enjoyed the Ravel Piano Concerto for the Left Hand. Engaging melodies, rhythms ( I did hear a lot of Bolero bubbling through), orchestral colors, energy, contrasts. Lovely.

Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe Suite 2 was a bit of a let-down after the Piano Concerto. It got much louder, but it didn't bring me in or along past the first couple minutes. Oh well. The Piano Concerto made the whole thing worthwhile.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Saw All My Sons at the Huntington and it was well done, though the lead women outshone the lead men by a lot, and the son, in particular, seemed flat. And it reminded me that Arthur Miller is not subtle. Unfortunately, it was marred, even in the last wordless (on stage) scene by two people talking behind me. Bah.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Went to the Damian Ortega exhibit at the ICA. Cool walking through the "exploded view" of the VW bug in particular. Also enjoyed the "Nine Types of Terrain" movies. Coke bottles, spinning oil drums, spinning oil and camera etc. were engaging, but didn't grab me as much.

Also enjoyed the Quaytman silk screened works with interesting fine scale moire or interference patterns, particularly "Exhibition Guide, Chapter 15 [diagonal pink]".

Friday, January 15, 2010

Went to the Met again and was drawn to three exhibits:

American Stories, Paintings of Everyday Life. I didn't take the time to follow all the stories or read all the labels, but was impressed by how quickly drawn into the, well, story, of each painting I was. A reminder of how compelling and immediately human visual storytelling in a single image can be. I wonder, too, how much of it was because of the American content, and how much of it was universal... Would it strike Europeans (or Asians or anyone else) as curious as an outsider or compelling as human or both?

American Landscapes in the Lehman Wing. Generally Hudson River School grand landscapes, including some of my favorites. These always get to me...

Five Thousand Years of Japanese Art. Japanese art tends to get to me, too. So much elegance, simplicity, balance, vigor. I've become more interested recently in screens, and the Sansetsu Old Plum was particularly appealing.
Went to the Saarinen modernism exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. Fascinating to see more about his overall work, particularly the TWA terminal, including modeling and construction photos and drawings. I was also impressed again at the Yale rink, surprised to see his Miller House in Columbus, curious about his corporate campuses (Deere, IBM), and surprised at the number of chairs he designed (and that he collaborated with Eames). It was a bigger and more interesting exhibit than I'd hoped for.

And the grand old building is quite handsome.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Went to the Frick Collection in NY for the first time. What a refined and impressive palace-as-gallery. Three Vermeers, and lots of other famous paintings. I was particularly struck by and drawn back to the Turner Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden.

I went for the Exuberant Grotesques exhibit, which, though small, was a delight. I'm so drawn to the seemingly endless menagerie of fanciful creatures tied together with swashes on plain backgrounds... Mesmerizing...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Rode the No Pants 2010 subway ride in Boston. Mellow fun. Lots of legs. Goosebumps, too. And fun to see the sequential train results -- some people taking off pants, some people getting on pantsless on the second train.

Met Suzanne of . It was kind of interesting to talk with her about her social experiment to understand and encourage talking to people on the the T.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Groundswell at the Lyric Stage was engrossing, creepy and moving. Who's responsible for improving the lot of (formerly) subjugated people? What means are acceptable? How much do hope and greed and vengeance color our judgment of what's right?
BSO's Haydn, Bach and Schubert concert was lovely. Yo Yo Ma is impressive, conductor Ton Koopman was gawkily, charmingly enthusiastic, and I was impressed listening closely to the Schubert 'Unfinished' closely. Right up my alley.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Saw Avatar in 3D. I'd heard that the visual experience was immersive and impressive, and that the story was sufficient but not inspiring. With those expectations going in, I was even more impressed with the visuals and feel of the whole thing than I'd expected. And though the story did seem well-worn and a bit simplistic, it more than sufficed to hold the whole thing together -- and even get me to think more about it in the following days. Nicely done.