Sunday, October 28, 2012

three concerts and a haunted house

1. Free concert at Stanford. 20th-century American piano trios, by Ives, Cowell, and Jalbert. Pretty dry stuff.

2. Lecture-concert, also free, at Stanford. Different piano trio, to play Mendelssohn's Op. 66 and talk about what makes it great. Played it well enough. Talk, which landed like a thud in pieces between each pair of movements, was superficial, grossly oversimplified ("If it hadn't been for Mendelssohn, we'd never have heard of Bach today"), but still too techy ("you just raise the third here") to be of use for the beginners who might actually need it.

3. Somewhat larger chamber-music concert (piano quartet & quintet) at Oshman. Brahms and his never-quite-forgotten epigone Mrs. H.H.A. Beach. Wholly amateur, though some of the players carried professional credentials, and fairly miserable. Sloppy and underpowered. Some concerts feel as if the performers were wired on caffeine or amphetamines; for this one, they all might as well have taken a few good whiffs of nitrous.

4. Haunted house, on a residential street a few blocks away. B. and I walked over after dinner. Impressively elaborate Disneylandesque walk-through set-up in the garage and back-yard, with about a dozen people whom you meet sequentially, playing fortune-tellers, pirates, ghouls, the Headless Horseman, and the webbed-up victim of a giant spider ("help me!") [resisted the impulse to reply, "Hi, Captain Crane"]). Only problem was, too dark to see much of the impressive decoration without a flashlight; fortunately, we had one.

I actually watched part of one of the World Series games on tv. It reminded me why I usually don't. Strikeout, strikeout, pop fly. End of inning. Switch sides, repeat. This is supposed to be exciting?

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