Saturday, April 26, 2008

Detroit Symphony Orchestra - Concert No. 4

Completing the cycle of John Corigliano symphonies, the DSO squeezed in the 2nd Symphony in between two classical juggernauts. Peter Oundjian was masterful, guiding the overture to Mozart's opera The Magic Flute with wonderful deftness and care. The work helped set the tone of the concert, cheering up everyone in the hall.

And then, like a good mix tape, we were brought down by the string symphony of John C. The sonorities fell off the strings and rolled down across the floor and into the ears of the audience. John's music has a unique quality to assault your ears and tear down your perception of sound. It sounds like depression on the ears.

The concert concluded with the impressive Hilary Hahn performing Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. Though it was once deemed unplayable, Hilary's performance made each line sound so easy and natural. I really cannot say much else than I am a huge fan of the double H.

On a sperate note, it is always facinating to listen to a concert conducted by violinist. Before conducting, Peter was known for his career as first violin of the Tokyo Quartet. He knows the instruments inimately, so watching is movements as guided Hilary and the orchestra throught the concert was breathtaking. It was just like watching two violinist talk about the solo work on scale both intimate and magnanimous at the same time.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Detroit Symphony Orchestra - Concert No. 3

My first introduction to Anton Bruckner was the summer after my senior year in college. One of the box office workers was a tuba player from IU. He brought in a box set of Bruckner's symphonies and set upon listening to them at work, in order, once a week. Everyone in the office groaned. I grinned through it, being to naive to realize what was going on. I am ashamed to admit this, but while Dr. Jordan will always by my Phone-a-Friend lifeline, he neglected to touch on Bruckner during my two years of music history.

My second introduction to Anton Bruckner was this past summer. Living with a former player in the Berlin Philharmonic and fellow Fellow, Martin was constantly questioning my musical knowledge. When I falter on Bruckner, he nearly fell out of his seat. He quickly went to his computer and made me download five of his nine symphonies, outline the brilliance and power contained within the notes. I nodded quietly, swearing I would listen to the collection on my long drives.

It was recommend I listen to the symphonies in the order of 8, 7, 4, 9, 5, and 6. On the drive from Indiana to LA I digested them in over the course of the 11-hour second day. It was staggering and all I really took away was the habit of ending each movement with a final cadence, toying with the audience into believing the work was over after only twenty minutes. But, once I completed the listening cycle, I occasionally found my fingers rounding my iPod's clickwheel back to the Ninth Symphony. It was dark, brooding, alluring and I liked it. And when Hans Graf drew up the opening theme from the strings tremolos and building to the wash of the horns, I actually had chills.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Detroit Symphony Orchestra - Concert No. 2

This year I have been haunted by two pieces, that no matter where I go I can always count on hear Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 or John Corigliano's Circus Maximus being performed. In Detroit, I was asked to be the point person to coordinate all the operational efforts for the concert.

Six surround trumpets, which we asked to be placed in the archways behind audience boxes, were moved the during the dress rehearsal. This was a movement I dreaded, for now we displaced two chairs per box, belonging to the most affluent and influential members of Detroit society and the DSO.

And now, since we were two weeks behind when this could have been done with care for the patrons, we had to deal with every person as they entered the boxes. Armed with an army of ushers, I lead the charge to deliver the message of musicians entering the box on the second half, give out earplugs like hard change and shift those who did not wish to be disturbed.

The piece is assaulted everyones eardrums and right before the climax a few people made a collective gasp. But I was pleased since of the thousands of people who came to the performance, only a dozen left the hall.

I could talk more about the actual performance, but John C's piece is really a spectacle to be experienced and viewed, not discussed. That and I am just tired from being at the hall every night this week.