Sunday, November 1, 2009

Saturday And The Symphony

Hey, November sneaked up on me! I had a vague idea that it was coming, but then my flatmate and I talked ourselves into cleaning up the flat and repainting the interior walls along with the porch Saturday morning.


By the time we got done afternoon had came a
nd gone and it was time to freshen up and skip downtown for the San Diego Symphony's 2nd of three performances of Mozart's Requiem.

The program was rather unspooky for a Halloween night and kicked off with the famous
prelude to Act III of Wagner's Lohengrin... sadly without running on into the even more famous Bridal Chorus (I mean, since they've already got a great chorus in the house that could really rock that thing, you know!).

I'm afraid we didn't get very good seats for it and the bad acoustic (toward the extreme left of the auditorium in the Main level) skewed the performance for me a bit. I thought the opening number got bogged down a bit once Elsa's theme kicked in. The brass section was having quite a good night, though... I bet they sounded quite splendid up in the middle balcony. In the imbalanced acoustic of where I was they got a bit muffled by the bass and strings section.

The second number was Max Bruch's D-minor violin concerto featuring Jeff Thayer, the SDSO's concertmaster... I'm afraid he was rather overpowered by the orchestra (which really couldn't have been playing more sensitively). Don't know if that was an intentional interpretative effect, but I found the lack of dynamic variation in the violin solo rather dulling on the Romantic music. He got all the notes down at good speed, to be sure, but there was no accentuating the line and practically no story told (that I could discern... but then a lot of that may be due to the bad acoustic of my part of the auditorium).

A lot of folks left us at the intermission and never came back, which was really too bad because the San Diego Master Chorale showed up and really rocked the second half of the evening in the Mozart Requiem.

I have to say that Maestro Ling's tempo for the Requiem was so consistently speedy that even the more solemn movements of the mass failed to spook me. One would expect that the quick pace would work well in the more furious movements like the Dies irae or the Confutatis, but the auditorium didn't catch fire during those either since there just wasn't enough contrast with the rest of the show (speed is no substitute for intensity... especially when you've got only one gear).
But the chorus was absolutely fantastic! They sang this thing like they meant every word of it. Great piano singing when called on, and delightfully lively in the fugue sections.

Also, I had no idea who they were before I walked into Copley Hall this weekend, but I'm mightily impressed with the tenor and mezzo soloists for the evening: Thomas Cooley and Sasha Cooke. Their beautiful voices were superbly used to convey the departing souls they were depicting in Mozart's final composition and I can only hope to catch them in more substantive roles in real operas one of these days. Jessica Rivera (soprano) and Jason Grant (bass-baritone) also sang well after a shaky start.

The ovation was warm indeed... But then it seems that in this town you really have to fall off the horse and bleed all over the stage (after having first flooded the orchestra pit and splattered all the coats in the first 3 rows of audience) to NOT get a standing ovation at the end of a show.


berenice said...

hola mister Smorg, you are soo brave painting all your walls, great job, very well done, cute place too!

and so glad you enjoyed Mozart, it sounded like a beautiful evening... i am subscribed to the San Diego Symphony's newsletter and got the update for their Mahler series... i hope i can make it to this one!

maybe i'll see you there?

Geisslein said...

Hi Smorgy - is this you at the left "before" picture? I like before-and after-pictures and I wish I wouldn´t be so lazy at this time - I would have enough work to do in my little house *sigh* ;o)...Hope you will have a great day today - and a wonderful weekend too :o)

Georg said...

Bonjour Smorgy,

The place you are living in looks good. But as Geisslein asked, are some of these photos "before" and "after"?

Sorry to see that you are obliged to store the cycle in the apartment and not somewhere in the basement where the cars are or in the entry hall.

As to the opera evening, don't be too harsh with the singers: they do what they can and anyway, they sing better than you and me. Not everybody has a voice like Ms. Kasarova or Lucia Popp. That's life.

I very much enjoyed the last photo. Lack of taste leeds to supreme ugliness. The walls seem to belong to a Gothic church but the wall above the orchestra seems to feature brown cardboard with neon light. Hope you don't mind hearing this. It was not you who designed this.

As to standing ovations, well I know what you mean. But for the performers it means so very much. Just give it to then.........


Id it is said...

Capturing a 'before' and 'after' on camera is a good incentive for future projects... :)

I plan to try this out; might make me more productive around the house.

You are right about those standing ovations; I'm often embarrassed into giving them when i find myself the only one seated at the end of the show.

Smorg said...

Hola bella Bere:
Thanks very much, amiga. :o) I'm glad we did clean up the place indeed. My flatmate finally finished all the wood works, so the saw has been put away now, too. It's great!

I'm really easy to please when it comes to Mozart, I'm afraid. :o) I love that dude's music to death. It's amazing how deep and yet simple much of it is. It's really too bad he died before having completed the Requiem (and perhaps redoing the recitative of La clemenza di Tito).

Hey, I would love to go to the Mahler concert indeed, but will have to see how I survive the Lyric Opera's Hansel und Gretel on Friday night. I've never heard Das Lied von der Erde live, so that program is very enticing! If I go it'd likely be on Saturday. :o)

Hallo Geisslein:
You observant reader, you! :o) I know what you mean about being lazy with house work. I'm even lazy with emails and comments these days! It has been rather warm here this November, but I think we are expecting some winter weather this weekend. That might cure me of this lazy bug (I hope). :o)

Bonjour Georgy:
Oh, I'm afraid there is no room in the garage at the moment since my flatmate's spare bike is already there along with the car and other stuff. ;oP

Heh, heh, I'm afraid I've been sort of campaigning against overly generous ovations here in the US. I'd stand up for great performances indeed, but here in the States the standing ovation is so routinely given that it really doesn't mean anything anymore. It'd be great to once more be able to distinguish good performance from bad ones and be able to really reward the former properly. :o)

As for Copley Hall... It's a strange place! :oD I think the stage looks a bit better from the center of the auditorium than from where I was. It really is quite a nice little concert hall, though it is now totally enveloped by a mini-skyscraper. From the street you see a totally modern building (you know, another one of those glass and marble box buildings). Then you walk inside and pass the barrier into the older building and all its Gothic stuff. It is pretty good for the acoustic, though. The inside is really quiet because all street and other background noises are blocked by the outer building. :o)

Hiya Id:
Glad to hear you're planning on trying the before and after project. :o) It's really cool to get to see the difference after all the sweat you put in indeed. I think there really isn't much housework project left for me to do now, though.

Next time I think I'll have a go at a park clean up project. Don't know why, but the folks around here seem to have blind spot when it comes to public trash cans.... They deposit the trash anywhere but there! :oP

Thanks everyone very much for stopping by. Hope November is going well your way!

Smorgy :o)