Having finally gotten to the point where I can get through two whole movements of a sonata without having to cough, it was time to attend another classical concert, only the second one I've been to since before I got home from Britain two months ago.
I chose to attend the Telegraph Quartet at Herbst, and had an athenais to accompany me, as they were going to be playing Schubert's "Death and the Maiden". But first, we had to get through the ultra-modernist jungle of Webern's Op. 5 and Leon Kirchner's First, the penance we had to pay before our heavenly reward of Schubert.
In speaking to the audience, the players said that what Webern and Kirchner have in common with Schubert is that they're all Romantics at heart. Heh, heh, I don't think so. I doubted it even of Schubert, and the way the Telegraph plays, none of them sounded a bit Romantic.
The interesting aspect of the two modernists was the sonorities, the weird and unusual sounds the players could make. The Webern, due to its brevity, actually added up to something here and there, but the Kirchner, though intriguing enough moment by moment, taken as a whole reminded me of one of those fearsomely complex mathematical equations which end with a crashing anticlimax of "=0". This is my usual reaction to Kirchner, so no surprise there. I know him of old.
So what did they do with Schubert, then, but play it as ultra-modernist as possible, with the closest thing to weird and unusual sonorities that the score would let them get away with. The sound was raw and sinewy, the equivalent of Dr. Manhattan before he learns how to put all his flesh on. The players seemed most dedicated to this principle in the first movement, which they played in an emotionless and featureless manner, but they gradually remembered that this is Schubert, and each successive movement was better and more passionate. First violinist Joseph Maile played his high figures in the finale wispily, but they worked.
We went out to eat beforehand, and A. decided to have a slice of pie. Pi, as we all know, is about 3.1416, but this slice was closer to 0.31416. Chintzy restaurant.