|Copley Symphony Hall box office|
The concert started off with Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs & Dances Suite# 1. This is a rather neat set of modern rearrangement of late Renaissance music by obscure composers (one of whom was Galileo Galilei's dad!). I had never heard the music before and therefore was much looking forward to a new experience. Alas, I seem forever at odds with maestro Jahja Ling when it comes to delivery of chromatically expressive music. The Raspighi sounded like it could be absolutely delightful - a masterpiece of impressionistic descriptive scenery. The music wants to jump out at you, but its enthusiasm was foiled by excessive restraint and regularity, so much so that it left me feeling left out in the cold. I can't fault the technically impeccable orchestra. The instrumentalists delivered all that was asked of them, alas, they weren't asked to musically live out Count Orlando's march into the village or dance the gaillard or the villanelle or the play out the risque masquerade. It was like listening to Ben Stein dead panning a spicy Italian play, every syllable sounded out with the same weight and rhythm as the others. It took much of the charm out of some of Respighi's best orchestration. After a while I found myself disengaging and starting to pay more attention to the violinists' trouser cut, the paintings on the auditorium walls, the bald spot on the back of an audience member's head, among other things, than to the music I had paid to hear!
|'scuse me while I take a little well earned nap...|
I'm glad I stuck around for Garrick Ohlsson's playing of the not often heard Tchaikovsky's 2nd piano concerto (in G major), however. Mr Ohlsson's vision of the piece was a bit different from mine, but he was both technically splendid and emotionally committed that his conviction not only won the evening, it also resuscitated the orchestra! Suddenly the players started to accentuate their phrases and indulged in tasteful rubato that made the music seemed came alive from series of printed notes on the score. Special notice to concertmaster Jeff Thayer (violin) and Yao Zhao (cello) for their solos and duet/trio bits with the piano. The rousing audience reception at the end was a big contrast to the one at half time. So much so that we were all rewarded when Maestro Ling urged Mr Ohlsson into giving us an encore. A fleeting playing of Chopin's C# minor waltz (Op. 64 No. 2).
|Jahja Ling urging Garrick Ohlsson on for an encore during the sustained round of applause at Copley Symphony Hall Friday night.|
There are a few good symphony concerts coming up this winter season. I'm hoping to catch a few, but have to see how my schedule would accommodate them. If you feel like enjoying some symphonic evenings while in San Diego, check out sandiegosymphony.com for their performance schedule.