Sunday, February 17, 2013

a pair of concert reviews

It's been a busy week: I had two concert review assignments in one week, something which rarely happens. The Friday assignment came first, which smote my heart slightly, because the Wednesday concert was the one I really wished to attend, and it was supposedly sold out. (Something odd is going on at Bing, though, because there were more than a few empty seats.) But then I was asked to cover that, too, so never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Wednesday's review was the one I had fun writing, because I know these Sturm und Drang works, and I love them desperately: it's my favorite slice of repertoire in all of music. Here, just in case you haven't heard it, is the J.C. Bach symphony, in a tight, fast performance with particularly weird warbling oboes:

Friday's review was tougher. Had I been writing about the concert here, I'd have brushed it off in 150 words or so, like the last string quartet concert I attended, but for publication I need more than that. I wrote it in a tearing hurry this morning, after fumphing over it most of yesterday, throwing hunks of wet prose at the wall to hope they'd stick, because I needed to have it in by 11 when I was leaving for the day for an agenda to be named later.

I'd gotten to speak to the composer of the modern work, at intermission after hearing it, and I seem to have pleased him with the observation that the open harmonies reminded me of the Harris and Copland works he'd cited. I asked him one question, regarding the term "octatonic pitch collection" in his notes, which I wasn't familiar with. It turned out when I got home that it's a standard technical term that I just hadn't known. Oh well.

The comparison to Mark Volkert's Pandora is a coded message.

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