Saturday, July 14, 2012

concert review: Summer Stanford Symphony

Well, I thought I was done with both the Mythcon schedule and the other big project of the moment, cleaning up and supplementing the bibliography for the next issue of Tolkien Studies, but they're both still biting me with enough proofing and changing to keep me occupied. I escaped for a couple hours to go to Stanford for a student orchestra concert.

They brought in a real conductor, they did: Martin West, whom I've heard with Symphony Silicon Valley. He led Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations with a real cellist, one from his own orchestra, the SF Ballet, as soloist; it must have been good, because I'm still re-running it in my head the next morning, and I don't even like the Rococo Variations that much. And Shostakovich's Fifth with enough flexibility to make it interesting; revealingly, though, the best part was a rigidly brutal rendition of the finale, enough to give the lie to West's program note claiming that it has "all the trappings of a genuinely jubilant closing passage." No more than the closing scene of Star Wars does, man.

The importance of who's wagging the stick, even if it's in front of a student orchestra, was proven by the student conductor who began the program with an entirely correct (and with smoothly handled tempo changes) but terminally dull Rimsky Russian Easter Overture.

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