This weekend, Omaha and I took the girls to the Symphony. It was thematically "a celebration of Asian music," but the first piece of the first half was Debussy's Pagode, and the entire second half was Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #1.
The Pagode was competently performed. The second piece, Tabuh-Tabuhan
was a highly modern piece for two pianos-- meant somehow to simulate the Gamelan, although I don't see how-- and the modernity did not translate well. I don't know if their timing was off-- it was one of those pieces with highly demanding precision-- but it came across as a wall of noise rather than a piece of music.
The third piece, Suizen
involved the shakuhachi, a Japanese wood flute. It was described by the conductor as "meditative." As modern as it gets-- it was composed last year-- while it was well-performed, I don't know if I would call the creepy soundtrack-informed "murky swamp" and "rampaging beasts" motifs entirely meditative. The motifs were blatantly Hollywood-- John Barry at his most obvious.
The fourth piece was by far the most interesting. Composed in the mid-1980s by L. Subrahamin and performed that night by his son, already a virtuoso violinist, it was lively and powerful. Ambi Subrahamin clearly practices every day on the Indian violin (a violin tuned to Indian scales and with internal drone strings added), and his passion and power were evident when he played. You could see a few of the violinists in the orchestra looking over with a "How does he do
But by far the piece of the night was the second half-- Rachmaninoff's Concerto #1 for Piano. The soloist was Nobuyuki Tsujii. Blind from birth, he had to be led to the piano and looked awkward finding his way to the keyboard and the chair.
But when he started playing, for the first time in my life I understood what piano snobs are looking for. He made the piano come alive, he made it *growl* when it had to. There are several call-and-responses with the orchestra that he starts, and when the orchestra responded with less energy than he did his second call would be utterly, perfectly attuned to the strength of the musicians behind him. He performed with such singular excellence that I couldn't really do ought but listen. It was amazing.
When it was over, he insisted on doing a solo encore that was equally powerful. I swear, he must have traded his eyes to get those extra fingers; he made the piano trill like water, shout like a wolf, it was astounding. And I think if they'd let him, he'd have played on and on for the rest of the day.
Sadly, the kids were bored by it. Bored and cranky by the end. But Omaha and I had a good time, and we're determined to subject them to yet more culture in the future. We can't have yogurt be the only culture they're ever exposed to.
Tags: life, music
Current Mood: satisfied
Current Music: Ravi Shankar, Rokudan