Sunday, November 10, 2019

two concerts

The two concerts I attended yesterday I went to because they were irresistible.

In the evening, the San Jose Chamber Music Society, now firmly placed in the music school auditorium on campus, hosted our great local pianist Jon Nakamatsu and the Modigliani String Quartet (from France) in the Brahms Piano Quintet, my favorite of all chamber music works. The Modigliani had shown themselves in the non-piano first half of the program to be an ensemble of a unified, silken tone, and Nakamatsu is a pianist who adapts his playing to its context, so it took a while for this grouping without that much grit in its playing to ramp itself up to the ferocity of the best Brahms, but the last two movements were all that could be asked for.

In the afternoon I was at the small side room of the Mountain View CPA for players from the Peninsula Symphony in a cut-down, ten-player chamber version of Beethoven's Eroica. That was basically one player per part. It was fun to listen to, and the first violinist, who was an uncanny dead ringer for John Hertz in looks, voice, and speaking style, gave an introductory talk on Beethoven and lucid individual descriptions of each movement. He didn't go on too long, so OK, he wasn't entirely like John Hertz.

What I didn't know until I got there was that this was just the second half of the program. The first half was a classical guitarist, playing mostly semi-pop pieces from South America. One piece with a continuous tremolo I didn't like. The rest was pleasant enough, but the amount of guitar music I want to listen to at once is very, very limited.

After the San Jose concert ended at 9:45, I stopped in at Pensfa, which was conveniently located on the way home. Just four people there before me, and some were quickly fading, but we had a little bit of good conversation, mostly on the topic of flaky people who invite you somewhere and then don't do the thing they invited you to join them in.

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