January 23, 2005
Beginning in the coals
Blog. Blah. Yup. Gonna try this thing. Let it start simply as a journal-type blog... see where it evolves.
So, today was down and up. I miss Solange, my fiancée, horribly. We're far apart for now. Yesterday was Abbie's birthday, and her party was lots of fun—got smashed... had slept a grand total of about 8 hours in the three days prior to that because I'm trying to finish a brass choir composition to give to David Baldwin, the director of that ensemble, so they can begin rehearsing... I'm proud of my work in some ways—for one thing it's 10 minutes long, for 15 players, and I've written it in 4 months! That far outstrips any pace at which I've composed in the past... 6 minutes for 4 players in 6 months is about normal... anyway, because it's so rushed I have less confidence in it, I've barely gotten to know the piece myself and I'm already handing it off to somebody to rehearse and perform... it might be awesome, it might be mediocre, I just don't know right now... and it's not quite finished yet... I'll be hashing out the drum set part, the other percussion part, and the bass part tomorrow, and printing scores... Finally finished, hopefully, by the time I sleep tomorrow night.
In any case, got smashed at Abbie's birthday party and woke up today, after my first full night's (morning and early afternoon actually... whatever) sleep in about a week... woke up depressed... really depressed... missing Solange, plus the brass choir isn't finished... I had hoped it would be by the time I actually got a full night's sleep. Mike made crèpes for breakfast. Left her house (I had slept on the couch), and came home. Slept here for a few hours, then went with Jen to the Minnesota Orchestra. Exquisite!
The concert began with Wagner's Siegfried Idyll, which was lovely... a love song cum Christmas and Birthday present for Wagner's young wife—truly lovely. That was followed by Lowell Liebermann's violin concerto, played by Chantal Juillet. Great piece, played very well. There was wonderful chemistry between her and the conductor. She is a smart cookie who gets serious respect from me. I don't know how many people noticed, but when she returned to the stage for a second ovation, she chose to first bow to the orchestra. She knows that those are the people who have worked hardest for that night, those are the people who actually care, those are the people without whom she could not have done it, and those are the people who have the knowledge to judge how well she did and to appreciate her talent and hard work. Then she bowed to us her audience, since we did appreciate her as well.
Then, the highlight of the concert was Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. As far as I'm concerned it's the greatest piece of music ever written. My word, I was in heaven. So much better live than on any recording I've heard. Mischa Santora conducted amazingly, and all the players were smoking; I was blown away. Huge props to everyone... horns and trumpets didn't crack a single note, and their parts are often way high... piano and harp had beautiful blend and balance with the rest of the orchestra, all the woodwinds were phenomenal in every one of the gorgeous, meaty solos Serge gave them. Mischa handled the second movement's second half, that 3-minute-long accelerando just phenomenally... holding back, holding back, ever so gradually stepping things up... always smoothe, no jolts, except where they were totally appropriate... frankly: fucking amazing. I sobbed for every reason conceivable over and over and over, every movement. I know I'll take more lessons and improve my conducting so that I am confident enought to conduct my own music, but this concert really made me want to become a Prokofiev conducting specialist... to study all the symphonies and concerti in depth. The 5th and 7th symphonies are both just so unbelievable... sigh... add that to the long-term joy list, eh?
As Jen said, and I concur, that was one of the very few concerts I've ever attended, where I genuinely loved every piece.
Got home and then went bowling with Mike for a bit. Nice cap to the day. I sucked, but it was a good time. Mike's a good guy like that.
Anyway, that's my first serious blog entry ever. Guess we'll all just wait and see what comes next.
Posted by crock038 at January 23, 2005 3:20 AM | Rambling
I was also at the MN Orch concert last night. I totally agree with your summary -- great performances of great music all around. Had never heard the violin concerto, but really liked it. I adore the Prokofiev, but have never heard a live performance. It was astonishing -- the brass were especially impressive. Did you see Santora lose his baton near the end of the first movement? A couple of people in the front row caught it and handed it off the the principal cellist between movements.
From our usual seats (nosebleeds), the hall seemed relatively empty. Too bad there wasn't a larger audience.
Posted by: Stacie at January 23, 2005 2:05 PM
Yup, the hall wasn't too empty, but enough seats were open that I thought the same thing. And yes I saw Mischa lose his baton with perfectly appropriate drama at a really climactic moment, waving his arms like a madman—and recover iron-grip, laser-focus control instantly I might add. It created some wonderful dramatic tension at a superb moment in the piece and made the whole orchestra jump to the edge of their seats too, as if to say, "it's alright man, keep going, we're right here with you, we got your back."
Posted by: Zachary Crockett at January 23, 2005 6:21 PM