Tuesday, October 25, 2016

3 concert and 2 expeditions

I was sent to Symphony Silicon Valley to review Scriabin's Piano Concerto. Have you ever heard Scriabin's Piano Concerto? I hadn't even known that there was a Scriabin's Piano Concerto until I was handed this. At first I was dismayed. I've battered my head against Scriabin's music before, often without success particularly for the orchestral music. Then I listened to this concerto. It's really good! Like Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff concertos, only without the surplus fat. I enjoyed this performance.

I went to Stanford last Tuesday to hear the Quartetto di Roma in Mendelssohn's Op. 13. I learned to love this quartet, essentially a very early homage to Beethoven's Op. 132, under the tutelage of the Pacifica Quartet, which played a Mendelssohn cycle at Menlo some years ago. That stuck with me so strongly that whenever I closed my eyes during this performance, I saw the Pacifica Quartet before me in my mind's eye, and whenever I opened them, I saw these guys instead, a disconcerting experience.

Then up to the City on Sunday for a special SF Performances concert in honor of their newly-retired founding impresaria Ruth Felt. The Alexander Quartet, which can be gritty when they really want to be, applied that to Beethoven's Op. 95, followed by Marc-Andre Hamelin in a tentatively soft version of Brahms' piano intermezzi, Op. 117. This was the Brahms who composed the Lullaby. Hamelin crossed over to the rougher side of the force for a fairly harsh run through of Schumann's Piano Quintet. In between, Midori (that's Midori Goto, the violinist) played some solo Bach, and they managed an encore with all of the above, a movement from Chausson's concerto for solo violin and piano quintet, another work I know from Menlo.

A new shopping center has opened deep down in the Silicon Valley industrial district, which I knew about because they sent me some coupons, for a Whole Foods and a branch of Books Inc., the local independent bookstore chain. They turned out to be hard to find in a poorly-marked sprawled-out mostly-office complex. At Books Inc. the clerk, who did in fact look vaguely familiar, claimed he recognized me from another branch. I have in fact appeared there occasionally, but he also said he remembered me without a beard, which I've had far longer than that branch has been in existence, so I may have another doppelganger, an occasional problem in the past.

After much travail involving websites that send unhelpful error messages and shipping agencies that automatically generate arrival announcement e-mails for the wrong day, I've acquired a Visitor Oyster Card for London transport for my upcoming visit there. Now I have to tutor myself in how to use it, having never gotten myself the local equivalent due to the complexity of the rules - touch this, not that; touch now, not then - and the rarity of my need for it. But I expect to have a busy week in London shuttling back and forth on the Tube, so into the future we go.

However, the amount that AT&T employees don't know about whether my phone plan will work in the UK, or even whether I can charge the phone on UK voltage, would fill the British Library. This despite my responding to every statement of "I don't know" with "Then who would know?" and repeated declarations that, since I cannot be the first customer in AT&T history to wish to travel to the UK with a cell phone, somebody in their organization must know something, and that is the person I wish to speak to. I think I'll have to buy something when I arrive, though whether it'll just be a SIM card or a whole new disposable phone - and I know nothing about disposable phones; I've never had to inquire about one before - I have no idea.

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