Monday, November 17, 2014

concert review: Escher Quartet

I drove up the obscure little streets to the remote fastness of the Kohl Mansion for a concert. It was dark, so I'm glad I already know how to get there.

Then I had to figure out how to review the dourest and least effervescent string quartet I'd ever heard while making it clear that they were still excellent performers who gave a rewarding experience. Fortunately I'd heard, and reviewed, them often before, so I knew the approach to take. Fortunately, also, I'd heard all these pieces in concert before, so I had lots of benchmarks to judge the performing style.

Then I surprised myself, having recently written that I'm not even ready to start thinking about writing my review until 9 the next morning, by getting up at 5 and writing the review, in full, by 8:45. But I wasn't quite done, because I wanted to check some things against the scores, and I had to go to the library for the Shostakovich. So it didn't actually get turned in until 1 pm, which is still 24 hours earlier than my wont.

This also enabled me to correct the error of having briefly fallen for the typo of the group's name in the program book. The Escher Quartet is named for the Dutch artist. Esher is a suburb of London.

Another thing I needed, but was able to get quickly online, was the adjective meaning "frog-like." (Haydn's quartet is called "The Frog," you see, for an odd sound made by the instruments.) I didn't look up "frog-like" or "list of words for animals" or anything like that. My secret Google trick is to use, when possible, not what I'm looking for but words that ought to occur in a good article about it. So I typed in a few words of that kind: "feline bovine avian," figuring that the results containing all three of those words ought to include lists with others like them.

They did, and the winner was "ranine." I hadn't heard that before, and apparently neither have very many others, for when I typed "ranine frogs" to double-check, Google asked if I meant "raining frogs," a phenomenon evidently more common than the need for an adjective meaning "frog-like."

Anyway, I'm fairly pleased with this review. It conveys the intangibles that I wanted to express, and it got written fluently, without my frequent devil of "Help! I'm writing a review for a large audience! Brain freeze!"

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