Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Music @ Menlo, day 2

All-Shostakovich prelude concert today. As one of the performers gave a pre-concert talk describing Shostakovich's denunciation by Pravda in 1936, even though the work to be performed was written before that, a voice a row behind me in the audience was heard to grumble, "I'm tired of hearing that story."

Performance by the young professionals was very good, though. Sonata for Cello and Piano: piano hammered away at vigorously by tall young woman hunched awkwardly over the keyboard; cello played well, though reedily and with less enormous vigor, by a young man with glasses: as soon as the guy sitting next to me muttered, "He looks like Woody Allen," all of a sudden he inescapably did. (Woody Allen of half a century ago, of course.)

Also on the program, the Quartet No. 8, given a fresh, slightly tentative approach by four young women who confessed that none of them had ever played it before.

Earlier in the day, interview session with the mezzo who's singing at the concert I'm reviewing this weekend. She talked about conductors who insist that the singers look directly at them even when they're acting in the middle of an opera, about being a last-minute substitute in an opera and not recognizing your fellow cast members when you run into them later because you've never seen them out of costume, about making the same bad habit mistakes when demonstrating to your students that you always tell them never to do, about being shocked by hearing instrumentalists critique each others' playing because singers would never speak that way to each other, and about her love for chamber music with voices - like the Respighi she'll be singing this weekend.

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