I, of course, was inspired by music. Classical music never fails to entice my soul, to gratify my heart, to enthrall, and to bring sheer waves of delight. Whenever I hear it, I become lost — in a good way. Suddenly transfixed as if phase shifted into another universe, the time space continuum of the symphonic music makes it easy to forget the dull mundane aspects of whatever was, and thrusts this new aspect upon me, and I smile, and I listen, and I hear.
This season the Pittsburgh Symphony has a theme for many of its concerts entitled “Inspired by Nature.” What a fitting description, to me, of all of the classical forms of music. This evenings performance of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons
was the first of these compositions that adheres to this theme. The seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter respectively, are deliciously represented by this music, it’s easy to hear the specific parts and how they may represent each season in turn. When I experience this concert live at Heinz Hall it is especially pleasing. The sound is so much better, and many of the bases and lower tones were brought out in crisp and clear fashion, with dimensional effects unrealized in audio recordings. This showcased the best of the PSO string section, and one Harpsichord.
Before that was a fantastic performance of the Variations on a Rococo Theme. Anne Martindale Williams was phenomenal on the cello. Her technical mastery of this piece composed by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky was breathtaking.
The concert opened with the Star Spangled Banner, since this was the new opening night, the previously scheduled Beethoven 9th was postponed because of the recent G20 conference held in Pittsburgh. It was great to see the musicians perform this great piece standing.
Then we were treated to a splendid Sinfonietta by Francis Poulenc. What a treat for me, I have not heard this before tonight. This was my favorite part of the evening. This is such a fascinating piece of music with four movements. Each movement, to me, seemed to also be ‘inspired by nature.’ I envisioned this music as a chase, with perhaps a cat chasing a butterfly, in the first movement. Each time the cat would bat at the butterfly, it would flutter by and escape the sweeping arc of the paw, again and again. The second movement I envisioned another form of chase, this time a fox was after a rabbit. It would dart and weave, and the sly fox was quick but could not reach his target. The music seemed to have instruments juxtaposed in 1/16 time offset against each other, as if that were the fox darting, leaping and just missing the bunny. Then the third movement slowed, to find in my imagination perhaps a lazy river, with swans and all sorts of flora floating by, now the scene reveals an island with maidens idling in lush green fields. By the fourth movement the chase is back on, only this time it is a dance which eventually becomes a ballet scene. The men and the women are ballet dancers and the two main characters eventually spin together in the finale. They float up into the sky as we hear the performance end with a sprightly spin of many pixies and merry maidens in a concluding pirouette.
Truly inspired by nature, the nature of music, in my minds eye and my listening imagination.