Last year a kind soul on the neighborhood association mailing list alerted us that a local pianist named Tamami Honma, who works as a music minister at a nearby Methodist church, was giving a series of concerts at that church covering Beethoven's piano sonatas. All 32 of them.
I went to some of these, which were overseen by a large cardboard cutout statue of Beethoven, and I enjoyed them. But whoever notified us of these concerts must have drifted away, because it was only on Saturday, from another source, that I learned that that evening Ms Honma was giving the second of three concerts covering Beethoven's piano concertos at the same church.
So I'd missed the first, and can't get to the third. But I hastened over for the second, which was a particular treat because it featured the concertos Nos. 1 and 5 (the latter is the "Emperor"), my favorites. The cardboard cutout statue was still there, so were Ms Honma and her percussive off-brand piano, and so was a small orchestra of peculiar roster.
The double winds of a full orchestra were all present. But in the strings there was only one player per part. This imbalance made for a wind-band sound much of the time, the more so as both these concertos include trumpets and timpani (which was also there). In a few passages where strings alone accompanied the piano, it became of chamber music intimacy. Interesting experience.
The orchestral musicians were from a variety of local community orchestras, and despite the fact that this included the Saratoga Symphony, they were fairly decent. Some horn wobbles during the transition between the Adagio and the Rondo in the Emperor left this magical moment basically unimpaired. I've heard less inspiring renditions in professional concerts.
Then on Sunday afternoon I ventured up to Redwood Symphony, with B. along, to hear Mozart's Requiem because I was reviewing it. I did not know until a couple hours before we left that it'd be a requiem for 26 Baptists from Texas. The chorus board president alluded, nonspecifically, to this in his introductory remarks, and I was pleased to be just as nonspecific in passing the allusion along. I wanted to acknowledge the moment, but reviews are required to be brief and on topic. There are other places to say what has to be said, and in some of them, it's being said. It may be only MAD Magazine, but I admire the concision in this.
May I just add that it really bites when an ensemble giving the world premiere of a work that they commissioned misspells the title in the program listing? It was right in the descriptive notes. I was just looking at the review and then the program listing and sent a hasty correction to my editor, and then had to follow it with a hastier uncorrection.