|Don't we look like we were about to go trek across Antarctica?|
Okay, okay, enough needling of people who actually are experiencing legitimately cold weather... Last week a favorite classical music/opera oriented blogger friend of mine posted a link to this fascinating webpage with a really cool behind-the-scene video of what goes on behind the stage during a live performance of one of the most complicated opera on the repertoire, Wagner's The Valkyries, at the Royal Opera House. It is a really awesomely educational watch for me. I shall now appreciate it much better when things don't go wrong on stage during an opera performance... considering the boat-load of things that happen all at once!
I also made it to the Saturday performance of Mendelssohn's violin concerto and Nielsen's 5th symphony at Copley Symphony Hall on Saturday night. A good evening at the San Diego Symphony, which started off with opera fans-friendly overture from Rossini's La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie). I had been wanting to hear Viviane Hagner play live ever since I first saw the video clip of her playing Saint-Saëns' Introduction et rondo capriccioso with Zubin Mehta and the Israeli Phil on Classic Arts Showcase back around 2004. The lass was only 14 yrs old then.
She has since blossomed into a beautiful woman and a marvelous virtuoso violinist. The Mendelssohn concerto is, of course, played to multiple deaths ever since it premiered in 1845 for obvious reasons. It is just about as perfect a violin concerto as you can get, and it allows for quite a variety of interpretations. Everyone has their favorite version(s) of how this thing is performed, I think. I have a few... and must now add Hagner's communicative and nuanced performance of it to my short list. What can I say? It's wonderful to listen (and even watch) fantastic soloists who make musical dialogues when they could have gotten away with just showcasing their talents and visions. Hagner listened and reacted to the orchestra (San Diego Symphony under Jahja Ling) that was playing with her, and it responded in kind, and the music came alive and gave quite a zing to the evening.
The latter half of the concert was also a treat for yours truly. I had never heard any of Carl Nielsen's music before. It is quite a discovery and a nice stylistic contrast from Mendelssohn's ultimate romantic number. Many times when I go to the symphony I have felt quite let down in the second half of the performance when the SDO would regress to beautifully and correctly playing minus the communicativeness and the infusion of personality that the featured soloist had incited out of the band in the first half of the show. Saturday was quite different and in a very good way!
I'm afraid that's my blog update today. I've been at this internet cafe for many hours now, nursing my mug of hot cocoa until the last drop got nearly as cold as chocolate ice-cream, and the proprietor is starting to look at me funny. Really, if the internet modem turns up in the mail earlier than Wednesday I think I'll have to kiss the postman out of sheer gratefulness. Can't wait to be reliably wired on to the ethernet again!