Tuesday, March 19, 2024

four concerts

1. I picked this concert by the Master Sinfonia to review for the Daily Journal because it was three symphonies, and that's the kind of meaty program I like.

2. Then SFCV sent me to cover an (almost) all winds and percussion concert by the California Symphony. Pieces like these don't fit in to conventional symphony programs. At the end of the review is the rhetorical question, "Despite the fame of [Mozart's] 'Gran Partita' in recordings, have you ever heard a performance live?" Actually, I have, once. It was an impromptu pick-up session with George Cleve conducting the winds of Symphony Silicon Valley, as it was called at the time, and it was purely fortuitous that I heard about it when I was in a position to go.
Scott Fogelsong in his pre-concert talk framed Lou Harrison's turn to Asian musical inspirations as a reaction to the serialist hegemony, which was apparently already a going concern when Lou was at school in the 1930s. "They wanted their students to write music that sounded like this," said Scott, and played a clip of I know not what, but it was Webernian pointillism.

3. Another little birdie told me that a string orchestra calling itself Harmonia California was giving a concert in a nearby church on Sunday afternoon. With Warlock's Capriol Suite and Bloch's Concerto Grosso No. 1, two of my favorite neoclassicals, on the program, I rearranged my schedule to be able to go. The orchestra was quite good, a bit heavy-handed on the rhythms for the more ethereal sections of the Warlock, but very good for the Bloch, which is supposed to sound like that. However, they only played 3 of the Bloch's 4 movements, with no indication one was missing. Since it was St Patrick's Day, they concluded with a lush arrangement of "Danny Boy," which they played rather badly: probably not enough rehearsal.

4. Last night, student chamber music showcase at Stanford, or, demonstrating what they've been working on all semester. A movement from a Bartok quartet - unusually plush, it sounded as if Alban Berg had written it - was very unusual for Stanford students, we were told, though B. comments that she heard enough Bartok to last a lifetime when she was a music student at San Jose State years ago.

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