Wednesday, October 24, 2018

five nights out

Thursday (which I seem to have forgotten to mention earlier): San Francisco Symphony. Pablo Heras-Casado conducts Spanish-flavored music by Debussy and Ravel, including Bolero, the piece whose popularity appalled its composer. It was all right. Also, Javier Perianes was relaxed to the point of somnolence playing Bartok's Third Piano Concerto, a work that had nothing to do with any of the rest of this.

Saturday: Kronos Quartet's "Music from Banned Countries" concert. This one was for a review, and since this was an explicitly political event it was for once appropriate to lay out political sympathies, though I kept the focus on the music, and didn't name the responsible person for the ban, who doesn't deserve the attention. No need to spoil such a moving and generally joyous event.

Sunday: Having checked the Daily Journal's publication of my last concert review, I stumbled across a theater review: a local company called the Hillbarn Theatre was putting on Noises Off by Michael Frayn, a farce about a troupe of incompetent actors who are themselves putting on a farce. True enough that this show is funniest the first time you see it, and for me this was at least the fourth, but it was a good, lively production. Best acting from Max Tachis, who didn't emphasize the character Gary's inarticulateness, but was great at silly body language for his tall, lanky form, shooting a leg out sideways prior to moving anywhere. At the start of the first act, the director of the play-within is seated in the audience and starts making comments correcting his cast. He was right next to me, but I knew this was coming and fortunately I guessed it was him and was able to laugh instead of being disconcertedly surprised.

Monday: Pianist Seong-Jin Cho at Herbst. First half all fantasies, a Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue which made Bach sound modern, the Wanderer Fantasy which made Schubert sound compact, and the Polonaise Fantaisie which was the embodiment of everything I find dull about Chopin. Second half, Pictures at an Exhibition which belied the pianist's cerebral style by actually vamping all over the keyboard.

Tuesday: Another Slate-sponsored talk at some mysterious theater out in the City's Mission District, this one a spinoff of their podcast series Slow Burn which has been reviewing Watergate and the Clinton impeachment scandals. Talk of, for instance, finding archival sound tapes of people no longer around or available to be interviewed, and they proudly played their rarest find, a recording of the voice of the least-interviewed famous member of the Clinton administration, Socks the cat. That was funny, since the first ever demo of the nascent Web I witnessed, in late 1993 when it was just getting started, consisted of navigating to the White House web site and playing the same audio file of Socks meowing.

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