Sunday, January 22, 2023

two concerts and a play

1. Christopher Costanza, cello

The cellist for the currently-in-abeyance (for lack of a first violinist) St. Lawrence Quartet decided to occupy the interim by playing the complete unaccompanied cello suites of J.S. Bach, in two concerts in one day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. I attended the afternoon one. This was in the Stanford Music Dept. recital room.

Solid customary performances with the ability to captivate the audience with this austere music of unvarying instrumental color. Costanza introduced each suite individually: No. 6 in D major is the largest in scale; No. 2 is the darkest and most emotionally intense, and not just because it's in D minor; No. 3 is the most robust, mostly because it's in C major.

2. Alessandro Deljavan, piano

Particularly attractive repertoire for a piano recital, so I decided to check it out. Deljavan is a hulking bruiser of a man, the kind with a heavy black beard on the lower half of his head and no hair at all on the top half. But he plays Scarlatti and Schubert slowly and gently. His Chopin Scherzos, though - all four of them, which is what I was really there to hear - were heavy and rough-hewn, without elegance.

During Scherzo No. 3, heavy knocking sounds were occasionally heard, as if someone was pounding on a door backstage. Deljavan ignored it. But when it recurred at the start of No. 4, he stopped playing, walked offstage, came back five minutes later and resumed, with no explanation then or later.

3. Palo Alto Players, The Play That Goes Wrong

I saw the national touring company in this some four years back. It was amusing enough that a local production sounded attractive, especially as this is the company which delighted me with my first viewing of the somewhat similar Noises Off years ago.

And it was good. The actors were energetic and witty, and the audience lively and involved. Only a few of the more violent stunts weren't quite realistic enough in their presentation; most came off well. The fellow playing the Henry Lewis part did a good imitation of Lewis's distinctive speaking style, but otherwise there was little attempt to imitate the originals. The woman playing Sandra/Florence was of size, adding a shred of plausibility to the futility of the others' attempts to haul her comatose body out the window. Mostly the play was successful at getting the farce farcical enough to overcome the dullness of the country-house murder mystery the actors-within-the-show are supposedly performing.

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