Friday, January 17, 2014

concerts on the rise

Although I've attended multiple events in a single day for a review before, like spending a day puttering around from event to event at the Carmel Bach Festival, on Sunday I attempted something I'd never done before: attending two concerts the same day in totally different places for totally different reviews.

In the afternoon I was at Stanford listening to the St. Lawrence Quartet for SFCV. I had not been able to hear a recording of the Martinu Quartet beforehand, and, as Martinu was one of those composers who reinvent themselves regularly, I had no idea what it would sound like. Not like Dvorak, that's for sure.

That ended at 4:40. I was then quickly on the road, stopping in at my favorite Chinese restaurant in San Mateo for my usual wor won ton soup for an early dinner - the place had been closed for remodeling for months, and I was eager to see if, on reopening, the soup had changed (it had, and so had the bowl it came in, but it was still good) - and then up to Kohl Mansion in Burlingame just in time for the pre-concert talk before hearing Garrick Ohlsson on piano for the Daily Journal. I'd long admired his work, but this was the first time I'd get to hear him really close up. Satisfying result, though the acoustics were really too bright for his kind of pianism. It was getting the reviews written over a highly occupied next two days that was much more challenging than squeezing the concert-going into one day, but it got done.

I'd thought I would spend Wednesday at the San Francisco Symphony, for which I had a ticket for the second week of the Beethoven-Mason Bates festival, but it was not to be. Suddenly what should appear on the SFCV online calendar but me covering the Kronos Quartet at Stanford that evening, a concert my editor and I had talked about but which I'd thought he'd decided against. Too late to do anything with my SFS ticket, so off to Stanford I went.

This review, rather long because it covered a lot of unfamiliar pieces, actually got written and turned in by the following afternoon, fast for me. The content editor asked me how I was able to write in such technical detail so quickly. I replied, "There's actually a serious answer to your question. When I'm attending a concert consisting of unfamiliar music, I know I'm not going to remember all the new experiences, so I take along a pencil and notebook, and I scribble ceaselessly in the dark, and whenever I'm afraid I might start writing over myself, I turn the page. Then I transcribe it all when I get home, and presto: enough notes to write the review on." This one actually included some bursts of drafts for the actual wording of the review, which accounts for much of the speed of finishing it, because it's not deciding what to say, but how to say it, that usually has me hung up in composition. The two arranged songs on the program I hadn't known, so I looked up the original recordings on YouTube when I got home and listened to them there. And a nod to Ken of the Thousand CDs for having long ago originally tipped me off to the beauties of Scandinavian folk music in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment