29 January 2011

KC Symphony: Ravel's Spanish Rhapsody, Plus Shostakovich

Last night we went to the symphony for the first time this season, having been otherwise occupied last fall. We called on Sergio's sister to watch Julia for us; to have a trusted family member near by who can watch our baby while we enjoy some live music is, I realize, a priceless opportunity. But priceless though it may be, we tried to offer some payment for her generosity by bringing dinner over before hand to say thanks. And so together we enjoyed delicious take out from Cupini's and some nice dinnertime conversation, including the most recent escapades of Emilio the Great, our 15-month old nephew who (like many his age) has a penchant for trouble. Recently he managed to pull down a lamp, paint a small space of wall with Vaseline, and ruin an alarm clock with milk - all in the space of five minutes and all from the comfort of his crib.

It was precisely this destructive but hilarious mini-rampage that I was imagining during the brief, rambunctious first piece of the evening - the Interlude from La boda de Luis Alonso, a zarzuela by Jerónimo Giménez - which was six minutes of delightfully raucous and rowdy music that seemed like a fitting soundtrack to Emilio's adorable tirade, as I imagined it.

Adding to the energy of the evening was Giancarlo Guerrero, a memorable return guest conductor, whose excitement and charisma evoked rollicking giggles from the man in the seat next to me.

After Sinfonía No. 4 by Roberto Sierra, a curious but very new piece, it was time for intermission and I was disappointed to discover that after 31 minutes of symphonic works, the music playing in my head was the tinny little song from the frog toy hanging in Julia's carseat. Go figure. I couldn't get her off my mind so I called Christy to check in. I got the feeding/diaper/sleep report just as the end-of-intermission bell was ringing and we scuttled back to our seats to prepare for Alisa Weilerstein on Cello playing Shostakovich's Concerto No. 2 in G Major for Cello and Orchestra.

As I've said before, I'm not a huge fan of Shostakovich, but I try to be open-minded and so I started reading about the piece in the program. It went a little something like this - "... at the center of the Concerto stands a cheeky scherzo in the sardonic and bitingly witty vein - let's see, if Julia had a new diaper at 7:30 then I guess she wouldn't need a new diaper until - a wistful, limpid motive in rocking 6/8 meter; a martial theme in leaping intervals; and a hymnal phrase in slower tempo - so if she's asleep right now and she just ate she'll probably be fine until--wait , what time do we get out here?" So on and so forth. So I gave up reading and decided just to listen instead.

The Shostakovich was ... how shall I put it? Just really, really sad. I'm not just saying that because I managed to read just enough of his bio to learn about his failing health and his time in a sanatorium. The whole thing was just all mournful and sort of defiant. I'm not complaining, mind you. An evening of live orchestral music - no matter how mournful - is a welcome break from the constant hum of Julia's blow dryer white noise and 24/7 NPR (my own comforting white noise, I guess).

Ms. Weilerstein, interpreted this mournful concerto adeptly and passionately. I decided to focus on her performance and let my mind go - instead of letting the emotion of the piece get to me and send me to all the anxious places in my imagination - and I found myself wondering if it's hard to play the cello if you are nine months pregnant which Ms. Weilerstein is not but - what can I say? - I still have baby on the brain.

The evening ended with a bit more wild rumpus in the form of Rapsodie Espagnole, written by Maurice Ravel while he was living hermit-like on a boat, which somehow seems relevant when you hear the piece, especially the part at the beginning that he described at "voluptuously drowsy." This Spanish rhapsody was a nice book end to the zarzuela that started the evening and by the time we left, right on time to pick up Miss Julia, the tinny little toy frog music was - at last - looooong gone.

1 comment:

mom said...

Delightfully entertaining post. I have experienced the symphony with a similar mix of thoughts. But of course I didn't capture it so eloquently.