Tuesday, April 17, 2018

concert review: San Francisco Symphony

My editor sent me up to SFS last week, to review a concert I'd conspicuously omitted from my own subscription series, because it featured Strauss's Alpine Symphony, a work I had not been eager to hear.

This was pure prejudice. Long-ago traumatic experiences with other long, late-period Strauss tone poems had made me allergic, and I'd never actually really listened to the Alpine Symphony.

But I figured I'd better do so now, especially because SFS is a great orchestra, and reviewing it brings out my most advanced discrimination of performing practice.

I wound up listening to the Alpine five times, three with the score, which is a lot more times than optimal with a work I really don't care for very much. But at least I acknowledge its crafty construction and found it easy enough to grasp.

That done on Sunday, I spent all of Monday at the university library in the woods, sweating away at research, mostly on computer, for the Tolkien Studies bibliography. That was 7.5 hours straight, with only rest-room breaks, not even stopping to eat. I estimate three more days, at various other libraries though not quite so intense a time, before I'm done.

The result of this is going to be the corn feed for next year's Year's Work in Tolkien Studies, and I can see some fun time with some truly wretched criticism this time. My favorite is the gay-themed study which finds, in the scene from The Hobbit where Bilbo and the dwarves climb fir trees to escape from orcs, only to have the orcs light the trees on fire, a metaphor for gay sex. What? Well, the trees are longer than they are wide, and they're on fire. I guess this is how some minds work.

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