The Merry Lives of Yinzer

Yinzer – that’s me, even though I don’t often use that expression, yet my life was merry indeed at such a wonderful concert — one with many references to Pittsburgh. I was able to make it to Heinz Hall an hour early to hear most of the concert prelude with Resident Conductor Lawrence Loh and PSO Concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley. This was a nice introduction to Mr. Bendix-Belgley and the interview process he had to endure to become PSO concertmaster, and Mr. Loh did an excellent job of introducing the music.

More merry was I to listen to an excellent rendition of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto number 1, elegantly played by Leif Ove Andsnes, piano.

All of Beethoven’s piano concertos are a joy. In the notes I see that “Both scores (1 & 2) appeared in 1801, the delay apparently caused by Beethoven’s desire to keep them from his rivals and reserve them for his personal use.” I wonder, if Beethoven were to write music today, with places like YouTube out there on the internet, if he would reserve his music for his personal use, or publish it online. If online, I expect he would have better luck than I, having published a nature video myself called ‘American toad singing Western Pennsylvania‘ in the spring of 2008, only to have a so-called disputed copyright claim on my toad video by another company about a month ago. I disputed that claim, but YouTube won’t do anything about it. I recorded the video myself in a pool full of toads some years ago. How in the world can a big music company make a claim on it I have no idea, there is no music, just a toad singing. But this happens a lot where companies lay claim to content that does not belong to them. Beethoven would perhaps roll over in his grave if he saw the state of the music industry today. Note: I would like to also state that the pictures I post here are mine, made by me, as are the words :)

One of my favorite pieces was played this past weekend: Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor (1846-1849) by Otto Nicolai — I’ve quoted the line below from the PSO notes on their web page, I liked the reference, and must listen to Die Meistersinger again to hear the melody:

“The complementary melody is not heard again in the opera, though Richard Wagner so admired it that he borrowed it for an episode in Act III of Die Meistersinger. “

Another beautiful piece – Zigeunerweisen, by Pablo De Sarasate, was surprising in the ability of soloist Noah Bendix-Balgley to control the depth and breadth of the solo part. Manfred Honeck joked before the piece that they picked something not too hard, with not too many notes. His sarcasm was amusing, because this piece was extremely difficult with lots of notes.

At the end came a few Strauss selections with lots of fun – first Manfred Honeck indicates that there is an expression (paraphrasing) “in Germany it is said they work 350 days and are on holiday 15, but in Austria they work 15 days and are on holiday 350.” This was the introduction to ‘Auf Ferienreisen’ (Holiday Trips) by Josef Strauss, where Mr. Bendix-Balgley strolls out in vacation garb, situates a beach chair, opens a few beers, gives a few to the orchestra including the Maestro, and generally garners many laughs. Josef Strauss’ ‘Feuerfest Polka’ comes next, with a real anvil, and the percussionist (help me with his name, he was great!) places a terrible towel on the beach chair, dons a pair of sunglasses, and does his percussion on the anvil while drinking beer. What a great time!

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Nov 29