Friday, January 29, 2021

musical and theatrical news

1. I've attended a couple more online concerts for reviewing purposes. Kohl Mansion is a local venue which has announced the rest of its online season, so I wrote an article which combined that news with a review of their final previously-announced concert, Beethoven's Op. 130 quartet which I was desirous of hearing anyway, and with an announcement of the release of the CD of their Violins of Hope concert which I had reviewed live. I was told I'd get a download of the album for review, but it turned out to consist only of one minute of each track. I'm not reviewing an album that way, and neither should you. So an announcement based on the copious press releases, and not a review, it was.

2. And Menlo's Gershwin-and-Ravel violin-&-piano recital, which was kind of goofy and which I'm saving up for review so that I can combine it with their next online event in a couple weeks.

3. The SF Conservatory of Music has given up on pre-registration for their inhouse concerts and are just streaming them. So I'm sampling a lot. Most interesting was one of those events where the resident professional string quartet plays student compositions. When the first piece started, I couldn't at first tell if it was the music or the players tuning up, which is the kind of problem you get with events like this. But some of the pieces were better than that. A French student channeled Debussy, but of course.

4. Some recommendations for online listening by people not me.

5. Bought a ticket to the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production called Shaw! Shaw! Shaw!, three one-act plays by GBS, on the basis of a rave review. Didn't deserve it. Shaw didn't think his own (very obscure) plays were very good, and he was an astute critic. The actors could be seen trying desperately to enact these bizarre and wooden characters. Nor, though these were all reportedly actual pre-pandemic stage productions, were they before live audiences, so no reaction to anything that might have been a laugh line.

6. Latest attempts at soothing late hours with aging thriller movies: Skyfall, only the second James Bond movie I've ever seen, was pretty good if hackneyed (Javier Bardem, then recently out of No Country for Old Men, plays the absurdly-haired villain, but of course) and mostly consisting of Bond (Daniel Craig) suffering through spectacular stunts and muttering "I'm getting too old for this crap." Breach, real-life story about the capture of Russian-spy-mole-in-the-FBI Robert Hanssen, despite good reviews did not work. Hanssen is written as a cranky old geezer and is consequently played by Chris Cooper, but of course. The movie's problem is that the feds already have the goods on Hanssen, they just need more evidence that will hold up in court. So they assign Ryan Philippe as Hanssen's bonehead assistant, his job being to make boneheaded mistakes (some deliberate and some not) to waste Hanssen's time so the feds can swoop in while he's out of the office and rifle through his stuff. So Hanssen goes to have his official photo taken, or across town to a meeting that gets cancelled. As a premise for a thriller, this is desperately dull.

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