Tuesday, March 20, 2018

busy weekend

In addition to a San Francisco Symphony concert on my own dime on Thursday (it was part of my series), I reviewed three concerts this weekend, one from each day, a busy but not impossible job. In fact, the writing of each review went easily, and I look forward to getting critical comments for being too flippant.

Two of the three reviews are now up, so here are the links:

Symphony Silicon Valley on Friday. Big and lively, featuring Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto and Respighi's Pines of Rome - which I don't demur from pointing out is, literally, fascist music. I think it's permissible to like the piece anyway. Note also the rather crafty (I think) pun I snuck into the final paragraph.

Peninsula Symphony on Saturday. Volunteer orchestra, but fortunately on very good behavior this time. Plays in an auditorium without any functioning drinking fountains. Has audience members who hum along with Leonard Bernstein while sitting directly behind you. Writing PLEASE DON'T SING ALONG on a blank page of the program book, holding it over your shoulder, and pointing to it vigorously has little effect.

I was most pleased by the well-rendered opportunity to hear a work by Howard Hanson, whose birthplace in Nebraska I got to drive by a couple years ago (one of three composer birthplaces I've visited, the other two being Henry Cowell and Beethoven). Both the pre-concert speaker and the conductor, talking before the piece, were aware of Hanson's local connection here as a one-time instructor at the College of the Pacific, but they both said it was off in Stockton, not knowing that the college didn't move there until after Hanson left; in his day it was right down the road in San Jose. More local than they thought, but they won't find that out until they read my review.

Sunday afternoon B. and I went to a big choral concert featuring a newer work in the tradition of Bernstein's Mass - yes, there is such a thing, and you'll be able to read all about it when my review is published - and then, having deposited B. back at home because she had to get up early for work, ran down to Mountain View for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's famous worm's-eye view of Hamlet, in a production made entirely by extremely precocious high-school students. R&G and the Player, the principal roles, were all girls, but so what? They knew their parts and how to act and were excellently seasoned for their age; though it dragged a bit at times, there was real talent here. So: Rachel Small (R), Veronique Plamondon (G), Erica Trautman (Player). Watch out for them in future years.

The only flaw in the show was that for the last ten minutes before it started I had to listen to the unutterably Silicon Valley techie conversation of the people seated behind me. One of them was working for a company that's trying to create flying taxis. B: "Why don't you call it Space Taxi?" A: "Because they don't go to space. Next question?" (Yes, he really said it this way.) B: "Have you ever played Space Taxi?" A: "No."

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