Monday, July 29, 2013

one day at Menlo

The Music@Menlo festival doesn't pack events quite as closely as the Carmel Bach Festival does, but when it does have a full day, at least they put everything in one spot. Menlo's big hall is a mile and a half away from their main campus, and you wouldn't want to walk it (narrow streets, no sidewalks, lots of traffic), so at least theoretically it made it easier that everything on Saturday was at the big hall.

The young performers' concert was at 1 p.m., over by 3:30. That left more than two hours before the Prelude concert, so I ducked off over to Kepler's Books to browse for a while. As usual, it was either too much time or nowhere near enough.

But the Prelude ended at about 6:15, and that was a little tight to leave and have dinner and return in adequate time for the 8 p.m. main concert. The meager food offerings at the table in the courtyard did not attract me, nor did their price. So I sat in my car and ate cold chicken that I'd packed in a cooler.

I'd have gone to the earlier performances anyway, but the point of doing so was to be able to mention them in my review. This is how I write about a subdued concert whose virtues were down in the subtleties, and also one which I'd had no time to preview the repertoire for. (Except for the Britten, I'd heard all these pieces before, but with one other exception I didn't really know them well.)

After my colleague Janos' review of the Danish Quartet last week, I was expecting fireworks, but no. They were very good players indeed, but so distant in the Haydn that I wondered if the acoustics had swallowed them up.

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