Friday, October 28, 2022

two concerts and a play

1. I reviewed the Peninsula Symphony last week playing Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. Next week I'll be hearing the San Francisco Symphony playing Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances. Good thing there's more to classical music than repetition. (FKB fans: "But not much!")

2. The Danish String Quartet, less intensely bearded than they were the last time I saw them, came to Herbst for my first quartet concert of the season. Mozart's K. 138 Divertimento permits more individual expression when played for quartet than for orchestra. Britten's Divertimenti leaned over to the light and perky end of the spectrum. Mozart's K. 428 was altogether more serious, and Schumann's Third was epically Beethovenian. But the best moment was their encore, a Haydn adagio played in memory of Geoff Nuttall.

3. I don't normally go out of my way to see plays that are being signed. I don't know ASL so I don't need the distraction. But Why Not Theatre's Hamlet, at Bing, was supposed to be transformatively imaginative. Mostly I didn't find it so: small cast, no sets, gender fluid casting (Hamlet, Horatio, and Polonius were women, Ophelia was a man), racially fluid casting also. Nor was having one character - in this case Horatio - be Deaf and communicate only in ASL unprecedented in my experience. But I stuck through the rather dully-played opening because Hamlet always gathers energy as it goes along. Later, dirt was spread over the stage, and in the mad scene Ophelia threw clots of it at the others - who flinch - to represent the flowers, which was striking in more than one sense, and even more arresting was the duel scene, narrated by Horatio in ASL as the other actors recited their lines while sitting on the floor mostly motionless facing her. The epilogue was completely silent, but you don't have to know ASL to figure out when she's signing "Now cracks a noble heart." Was this stuff worth sitting through the whole thing for? Uh, maybe.

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