Saturday, March 2, 2024

two concerts and half a dance recital

Well, that was weird (see previous post). Betty Smith is an author I'm capable of not having a thought about for decades on end, and then she shows up twice in my feed in a matter of days.

Back to slightly more normal events. I reviewed for the Daily Journal a string quartet concert taking place the day after my previous concert. But it was a string quartet concert with a difference. A dance company founded and run by Deaf people would be performing along with the music. Turned out there were just three of them, and it was less than half of the music, which raised the question of why there was so little dancing when they were going to special lengths to invite members of the non-hearing community to attend? What were they supposed to do while there was no dancing? Just watch the musicians busily sawing back and forth?

The next Saturday, which was today, the small music department recital hall featured one of its student showcase concerts: various ensembles play a movement or two of something, followed by a different ensemble playing something else, and so on. And if you read the bios, it turns out that most of the students are either computer science majors or pre-med.

The best instrumental performance on this program was a movement from a Brahms Piano Trio. More problematic was a movement from the Franck Violin Sonata, the same work that B. is struggling with at home. Turned out that this violinist was struggling with it a bit too.

But the highlight of the event was something a bit unusual for these concerts: song recitals. Three songs each by a tenor and a soprano. The tenor, probably more of a light baritone as his low notes were strong but his high ones a bit chancy, sang Rodgers and Hart's "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" too slow and Bernstein and Sondheim's "Maria" too fast. The soprano, Moira O'Bryan, with a light but firm voice, sang three songs that I (nor B., when I showed her the program afterwards) didn't know, and she brought the house down with a dazzling romantic breakup number called "If You Hadn't, But You Did," music by Jule Styne and lyrics - unsurprisingly considering their virtuosity - by Comden and Green.

You have to hear this, so here's a recording by Dolores Gray from the original cast album. That's probably the best version all around, though it's also been picked up by Kristin Chenoweth, Liza Minnelli (sounding more like a Christine Pedi impersonation of her than Christine Pedi does), and Carol Channing - this is probably the best, certainly the funniest, of the cover versions, despite or perhaps because of Carol losing the thread of the fast-paced lyrics as she sings to an increasingly dismayed Perry Como.

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