What We Talk About When We Talk About Rondos – Jennifer Pizzuto

So enchanted was I with Beethoven’s “Emperor” Piano Concerto, that I decided I lacked the proper vocabulary to truly express my thoughts.  A simple, “that was amazing” doesn’t even begin to do it justice.  I figured that I would educate myself and, since I’ve been blogging for over a year now (and the PSO hasn’t kicked me out yet, surprisingly), I’d decided to actually do some research.  Shocking, I know. 

This “research” idea hit me upon scanning the program on Saturday night when an unfamiliar term snagged my attention…what is a “rondo,” exactly?  The third movement of Beethoven’s concerto was said to contain one, and I listened for it, but I still don’t know what it is.  Go ahead and Google it.  I did…and I’d like to say that I’ve effectively added it to my vocabulary and can use the word intelligently in a sentence to dazzle my much less musically competent friends.  I would like to tell you that if “rondo” was the answer to a “Jeopardy” question, I’d get it right.  But I would be lying.  Even after reading the Wikepedia definition and a few other music-for-dummies websites, I’m still utterly lost.  So, let me just tell you, sans technical musical terminology, that I heart Beethoven.  It was such cruel destiny that the man who composed such beautiful, timeless works couldn’t even hear them himself.  Those of us who are fortunate enough to experience his concertos are very lucky indeed. 

And Emanuel Ax’s performance was nothing short of brilliant.  I wish that I had been able to meet Mr. Ax, as did my fellow PSO blogger, Doug Bauman.  Watching such a skilled pianist perform the “Emperor” Concerto was an incredible experience.  I stopped wondering about rondos and savored the moment, allowed the music to take me over.

And speaking of savoring the moment, I realize that I would be grossly negligent if I did not discuss Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7.  If James Cameron had the ability to resurrect a composer for his films, Bruckner surely would have been at the top of the list.  His work is so epic; the Adagio movement was especially brilliant, when considering its background.  Bruckner wrote the Adagio as a tribute to his dying “Master” (Wagner).  It was full-bodied, orchestral bliss…like an Italian roast that coats one’s palate, leaving the smoky flavor to linger long after the coffee has gone.  That’s the Adagio.

I was a bit appalled to read in the program notes that Bruckner was asked to “normalize” his work.  (I even scribbled, “Say what?!” in the margins, in disbelief.)  Even though he tried to appease his critics by permitting a bit of alteration, Bruckner is still my hero for composing some of the best music I’ve heard.  And his music was stuck in my head for hours after the performance on Saturday.  I guess it’s a risk we all take when we visit the PSO.

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Jan 27