Friday, September 23, 2016

an artistic day

The reason it was such trouble for me to arrive at the 7:30 PM Brahms program at Stanford last Saturday was because I'd been up in San Francisco reviewing a string quartet concert that had begun at 4. Despite consisting of four Haydn and Mozart quartets, the performers managed to get it in at just under two hours, mostly by cutting repeats ruthlessly. One of the performers had buttonholed me before the concert started to alert me to this, and to explain that the length of the concert had alarmed them too when they were preparing it. Here's the review. Despite my recent experience hearing ten Haydn quartets at the Banff festival, neither of this concert's works were among them: not too surprising, considering that he wrote over 60 of them. As for Mozart, not a note of him had been heard all week at Banff, one of two indispensable string quartet composers of whom that was true (the other was Shostakovich; some might add Elliott Carter to that number, but I wouldn't).

So, having carefully located a street parking space near the church venue for the concert, I hopped it directly down to Stanford as soon as it ended, and found a space down there in only the third lot I tried.

Ironically, the same string quartet concert was being repeated in Palo Alto on Sunday afternoon, which would have made more sense for me except that that was when B. and I were at City of Angels, having already changed the date from the one on our series ticket which we can't make because of another random concatenation of events. And thus our lives consist of assembling jigsaw puzzle pieces.

A lucky puzzle-piece find occurred when I realized that, since the concert in San Francisco began at 4, that would leave me time to attend the first showing of the afternoon of Ron Howard's documentary on the Beatles' touring years, which was playing half a mile down the street at the Sundance Kabuki Cinema (yes, that's its name) in Japantown, the closest to me it was appearing, but farther than I'd want to make a trip just for. Illuminating movie, with lots of film clips I didn't even imagine existing, like of the Beatles cavorting in their hotel rooms, and plenty of interviews - recent ones with Paul and Ringo, archived clips of John and George - reminiscing, describing how exciting they found Beatlemania at first, and how tiring it had become four years later. And every time the band is shown playing, it's of a different incredibly classic song. There's even a comparison, by a musicologist, of their creativity with that of Mozart and Schubert, which put me in a good mood for the live music to come.

As I walked through Japantown towards the theater, it occurred belatedly to me that, with a little preliminary research I might have found a restaurant there suitable for lunch - Japanese food and I require considerable negotiation before we can come to an accommodation - but I hadn't; I'd started off with a visit to the deli another mile away.

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