Thursday, March 01, 2007


We went to the symphony last Friday. It had been a week full of late nights and pressure. Not a good lead-in to a Brahms performance or any classical music, for that matter – Brahms didn't just write lullabies, you know. Anyhow, here are some observations from the evening. They've been translated from my blind scrawls across several pages of the program/magazine (why are those things so lengthy? I can never find the program I'm there to see without wading through pages of musician bio puff pieces and endless ads for upscale everything):

  • The first part of the program was a piece composed by GL Frank. The GL stands for Gabriela Lena. It was very cool to hear the "world premiere" (whatever that really means) of a work by a female composer. Especially since she spoke to the audience and seemed genuinely delighted about being there.
  • By the way, she is of Peruvian-Jewish-Chinese heritage. They got to check off a lot of boxes on their how-diverse-are-we form.
  • I enjoyed her "tone poem" entitled "La Llorona," written for viola and orchestra.
  • As the violist prepared to play, I noticed that his mannerisms were not unlike a batter's in the batting box. Funny little stretches and stances.
  • Second part was Brahms "A German Requiem." Written, so the slick program notes say, after the death of his mother.
  • 160 or so black-and-white-clad members of the Houston Symphony Chorus filled the tiered rows (for godsakes, don't call them bleachers) behind the orchestra.I'm not a big fan of choruses. One might say I'm not a team player; I prefer soloists. However the chorus added quite a bit to the requiem-ness and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them.
  • During the delightful, chaotic orchestra tune-up, I wished the chorus members would join in, each humming a note until they knocked the flatness or sharpness out of it. It would have been a symphony cacophony. (I love saying shit like that more than I can explain.)
  • In spite of the fact that I had a bad case of the fidgets (like some strung out tweaker, I could not sit still), I ended up falling asleep during the fifth movement of Brahms' somber piece.
  • Barbara woke me up before I started snoring. I think.
  • Finally, what's up with all the fucking posturing at classical presentations? Stop that dramatic 20-second pause between the first violinist sitting down and the conductor striding in. It's annoying and affected. So are the four encores. Enough. Stop it. This isn't the royal court. Music is reward enough without all your pompous frippery.

No comments: