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A trip to the symphony - Elf M. Sternberg
A trip to the symphony
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 that?" look.

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: ,
Current Mood: satisfied satisfied
Current Music: Ravi Shankar, Rokudan

4 comments or Leave a comment
athgarvan From: athgarvan Date: January 31st, 2013 04:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I imagine I also would have been "bored and cranky" by the end of it too.
charlesks From: charlesks Date: January 31st, 2013 05:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

I am so turning this into a Foxworthy

We can't have yogurt be the only culture they're ever exposed to.
If the only culture you've ever been exposed to is yogurt, you might be a redneck.
abostick59 From: abostick59 Date: January 31st, 2013 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I am so turning this into a Foxworthy

Real rednecks don't eat yogurt, silly.
mg4h From: mg4h Date: January 31st, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
My few times going to the orchestra helped me understand why I was bored and almost falling asleep, even if the music was awesome to listen to - I have trouble when only my auditory senses are being used. I need something to look at as well, and frankly the orchestra wasn't enough to qualify. The time there was an orchestra with a video feed behind them (I forget which but probably some video game music) I was entertained because that was something I can look at.

Fantasia was fine because while it was classical music, there was stuff to look at. I've also had the problem with the phone - I can pay attention for a while, but after a bit I have to be looking at/doing something else too, and that can distract me from the conversation. Oh and my eternal sadness - audiobooks when there's a cast of characters that I WANT to listen to, but I find I just.... what was I saying?

Besides the being dragged by parents factor, is that at all possibly a problem for them?
4 comments or Leave a comment