Vast oceans of written words are scribed with kindled passions running through the veins of inquisitive souls — vivid passages glisten with the sweet love revolving in one’s sphere of influence whence the thoughts and senses acquire a greater dimension of fluency. When I strive to extol vast hemispheres of new worlds yet to be experienced, I feel the exhilarating essence of induced feelings of gleeful anxiety. And I, the lowly observer, listening to passages of music made bare before my ears, often find instances of interlude yet to be savored, sometimes conjuring before my mind’s eye an adventure to taste and to grip in ones own two hands, an affair to remember and a new encounter to thrill the heart in barely veiled anticipation. Yes, these are the events that drive fresh adrenaline to stir my interests, and as the senses stir, progressively the concert becomes my intimate and the venture is complete.
As luck would have it this weekend, I asked a friend at work to attend the concert on a ‘guest blogger’ pass (no really, I just invented that term), and she accepted. Neither of my guests had experienced a classical symphony concert before, although they both told me they had been to performances at the Benedum previously. So it was my idea to let others experience the beauty of classical music.
I myself grew to love this form of music over many years, sort of a gradual transition which led me to somehow become such a fan that it’s almost exclusively the only kind I listen to now. Sure, I’ll still occasionally play The Moody Blues, one my favorites, or listen in to some of my daughter’s music, including one of my new favorites: Sara Bareilles. So it’s always fascinating to find out what kinds of music others enjoy. Paula, on the left in the photo, must be a fan of The Temptations because she mentioned that they would be playing at Heinz Hall on Sunday night. Tara, her daughter, didn’t commit to a favorite form, so I was hoping she’d be open minded to the symphonic music. One comment she did make was that she enjoyed watching the conductor, Juraj Valcuha, a guest conductor born in Slovakia and who now spends much of his career in European cities including Paris, based on the program notes. Indeed, Mr. Valcuha was very animated, and was using his baton all over the podium, in ways that seemed to inspire the orchestra into seamless synchronization and fluent harmony.
Well I must say, my two guests were a delight to host for this evening. When they found out I got the tickets they said they were ‘super excited’ in the email response – well it wasn’t just hyperbole, they really were. They enjoyed the music and the performance, at least, that was the impression I got based on their eagerness to discuss the aspects of the performance, the instruments, piano versus strings, and alas, perhaps the ‘scary’ nature of the brass during the performance of “The Mermaid” composed by Alexander Zemlinsky.
Personally, I really enjoyed the Beethoven 3rd Piano Concerto, and Yefim Bronfman was amazing with the piano. He seemed to have a form of ‘scope’, sort of in a space inside himself when he played the piano passages. I could see him occasionally move his lips as if reciting words that would go with the melody. The PSO played as his counterpart marvelously. As Beethoven is one of my favorite composers, this piece was one of his masterpieces that I could easily hear again and again.
The Mermaid was also a nice piece of music, although at times I didn’t quite understand the programmatic context. I’d have to say that I’d prefer to hear it again, as I said before, this music grows on me, and the more I hear it, the more I like it.
One more note: Bronfman’s encore was a fun, seemingly impossible, and certainly amazing piece, I hear it was Paganini’s 24th Caprice (IMPOSSIBLE solo violin work).