In the past few months, I have had the privilege of seeing many great concerts. Until now, I have only “reviewed” more professional concerts such as programs performed by the Kansas City Symphony or recitals by famous soloists. To open this blog, I will begin in the same way. At the end of January while I was still home for winter break, I attended two concerts by the Kansas City Symphony. The first program consisted of a Manachem Wiesenberg’s Reflections (US Premier), Brahms’ famed Double Concerto, and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7. Works on the second program included Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella, the Barber Violin Concerto and Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto (both performed by the unmatched Gil Shaham), and Shostakovich’s First Symphony. Both of these concerts happened over two months ago, so, due my faulty memory, I am only able to recount the highlights.
In the first program, the Brahms Double merits mentioning simply because it’s the Brahms Double and, by proxy, awesome. The soloists were two Curtis students, Josef Spacek and Camden Shaw. They charmed the audience through the upper balcony (where I was) despite Brahms’ challenging writing (especially copious amounts of double stops). The program notes also referred to Brahms as a “curmudgeonly bachelor,” but I digress. In the same program, the KC Symphony led by Asher Fisch rekindled my love for Dvorak 7. My introduction to this symphony was performing it in 2007 in the Kennedy Center. Experiencing Dvorak 7 again from the audience’s perspective was a wholly new exercise. This time I felt like the orchestra was taking me on an escapade through the mysterious first movement, the mellifluous second movement, the jesting third movement, and finally, the most majestic and breathtaking fourth movement. The symphony and Asher Fisch really milked the finale for all it was worth. On the final chords, was literally holding onto my seat from the zeal and volume of the orchestra. It was spectacular.
As far as the second program, I can’t praise Gil Shaham enough. He can produce the sweetest tone for the Barber and the most raucous tone for Prokofiev 2. The best part about being present for his performance rather than listening to a recording of it was that he really enjoys what he does and it’s obvious in his playing. I distinctly remember one part in the Barber where, before his entrance, he took an excited gasp and smiled as if surprising himself with the music he was producing. Shostakovich 1, also on that program, is a rather interesting symphony. It is so very characteristically Shostakovich, but has more vigor than some of his later works in my opinion. I also found it odd that it turns into a bit of a violin and piano concerto in sections. During the punctuating piano chords in the second movement, some of the audience laughed. Because I was familiar with Shostakovich 1 going into the performance, I wasn’t caught off guard, but I suppose it could sound like the pianist messed up big time. That said, I was slightly put-off by the laughter because those chords sound so angst-ridden to me. Overall, this was another fulfilling program, led this time by Michael Stern.
Stay tuned for Part Two, which details my first time hearing the New York Philharmonic and various musical happenings at Bard.
Spring is finally showing its face in upstate New York. Only a few patches of snow remain and much of the mud of the past week has receded. Unfortunately, the snow hasn’t been the only thing melting. My resolve, which had been rock solid all last semester and the beginning of this semester, has been softening. I am once again uncertain about my future profession. It was comforting to have decided on Medicine; I just had to follow the path laid out before me. My sudden doubt, however, stemmed the realization that there are a plethora of subjects I have yet to explore. Bearing this in mind, I refuse to be set completely back to square one. I have decided that I will continue on the track of medicine while still considering and examining other areas of study. One thing I can say with nearly 100% certainty is that my education will not be finished after I complete my undergraduate degree. Whatever career path I eventually settle on will involve a more specialized education. I just need to decide WHICH specialized education….
Now onto a more important topic: Music. If becoming uncertain about my future was the negative aspect of this semester, the positive aspect is how music-filled this semester has been. I am in a piano trio and we are currently working on Beethoven’s “Ghost” Trio, Op. 70, No. 1. It’s my first time working with a piano in a chamber music situation aside from sonatas. With this work in particular, I have been able to appreciate Beethoven’s prowess as a composer for the piano. The “Ghost” is so sonorous, but it’s not heavy in any way. I will have to write more about it at some time. This semester I am also helping to premier an opera! The composer is a friend of mine and a fellow music major at Bard. It’s very exciting to see and especially to be involved in the birth of a new work. As far as private lessons go, I am nearly finished with the 21 pages of Lalo. As is always the case in music, “finished” is relative. I’m still working out some kinks in the Rondo, namely fingered octaves and some rogue arpeggios. I also joined choir this semester (don’t shun me). It’s very weird to be reading music without my violin, but between the opera and choir, I’m appreciating the voice as an instrument much more than I ever have. We are singing Mendelssohn, Vivaldi, and Haydn this semester. I want to write more about music, but it’s so late.... I’ll be back.
More entries: December 2009
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