Tuesday, April 12, 2022

concert review: Redwood Symphony

My editor sent me to this concert, for my first SFCV review in six months, because they were biting off something bigger than a volunteer community orchestra would be expected to chew: Absolute Jest, John Adams's concerto for string quartet and orchestra.

Sounds congested, but in fact the quartet mostly plays as a group, not as four individuals trying to hog the spotlight, which is what multiple soloists in concertos usually do. I did what I could to study the work in advance, since I knew it had to be the focus for my review, but Adams's jittery, chaotic writing is not always easily absorbed. But I think I got the hang of it.

The other pieces, Beethoven and Copland that I know well and have been listening to since the days you had to get them on LP, were easier. Technical quality was kind of sloppy, but they got the jist of the music and gave it drive and enjoyability. The one thing I didn't find room to mention is that the Copland, which was the opening work, was accompanied by the sight and sound of ushers showing late-comers to their seats. Usual practice is to wait for a break in the music to do that.

And as I mentioned at the end, this is the third concert I've heard in a month - three weeks, actually - that was introduced with the Ukrainian national anthem. Winchester Orch, California Sym, now Redwood. Each with a different arrangement, too. As a gesture of support, it just shows how counter-productive Russian policy is. I wonder: if this were 1914, would we be hearing the Belgian national anthem?

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