Saturday, February 7, 2009

Vindication, sort of

Remember the concert that failed to live up to its amazingness? Yeah.

Well, tonight I went to the symphony band concert. Following an unremarkable first half (a suprisingly stodgy Dvorak serenade all played at a moderate dynamic and tempo with sort of square, chunky melodies (is it just really hard to evoke the Baroque without sounding stale?) and the classic Holst Suite in E-Flat, which I find enthralling), the second half satisfied the longings set in place weeks ago. They played the Stravinsky (I'm happily awaiting that cheap box set Alex Ross mentioned), one of those pieces that's so nicely textured. It probably would have sounded crisper, unfortunately, with Salonen and CSO, but the performance came off decently. The concert closed with Bolcom's "Ninth," titled "First Symphony for Band" to avoid the death-knell, and what a delightful piece it is. The first movement carries out these hammerblows right out of Verdi's Dies Irae, mixes in some of that Mahlerian brass fanfares, and a sort of churning underbelly of harmonic tightness. The second movement bursts into a luxurious waltz that teeters sweetly on drunkenness, then on sourness with the low brass, and finally explodes into a giddy climax of brashly percussive orchestration. There's something marvelous about the screamingly dissonant chords in Bolcom, the way they get used for lightening, rather than darkening, exuberance rather than angst. The third movement was a dark scherzo, the fourth a brilliant collision of overly demanding marches and dance rhythms. How wonderful to have him here.

Oh, and on the bus ride, sudden Karaoke! Hooked on a Feeling is exactly what was needed to follow. I'd like to see the CSO crowd break into song upon exiting.


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