When I was a tiny little lass, I lived a life that was constantly colored with melodic rhapsodies from my favorite musicals. Rainy Saturdays always consisted of West Side Story marathons…as mandated by ME, because I am the oldest child. (If a movie is good, there’s NOTHING WRONG with watching it for eight consecutive hours.) As an adult, my dear baby brother has effectively banned any and all musicals from his own household, claiming that he cannot tolerate “show music” anymore—and, according to him, it’s my fault. He unreasonably maintains a special dislike for West Side Story.
Sarah Chang would have fixed his wagon.
Ms. Chang’s electrifying performance of music from West Side Story was absolutely stunning. I’ve watched the Hollywood version of this street-savvy depiction of “Romeo and Juliet” no less than a gazillion times; hearing Ms. Chang and the PSO perform it, however, was a whole new world for baby blogger. I’d never experienced it this way. Ms. Chang brought Maria to life through her violin—and nearly a week after the performance, I still have no idea how this was possible. It sounded as though she was playing ten different instruments simultaneously. She and her violin danced with an air of passionate delicacy, evoking a sense of magic and grace. She reminded me of a sparkling pink firecracker (attributable, at least in part, to her fabulous pink gown!). Ms. Chang and the PSO actually enhanced my favorite songs in the world and made me fall in love with West Side Story again. If only I could listen to this performance for eight consecutive hours…though I highly doubt that even Sarah Chang could pack that much stamina.
I have to add that Yan Paschal Tortelier was adorable. Fear not—I will never relinquish my steadfast position as Manfred Honeck’s number one fan; however, Tortelier was so vivacious, he transformed the entire concert into a wildly animated performance. It required far more than simply listening to experience this concert. I was completely entertained by Tortelier’s spunky gesticulations and enthusiastic leaps. And by the way, I’ve discovered a new obsession: Morton Gould. Why have I never listened to this man’s music before? His Spirituals for Orchestra was a brilliant piece that shifted its essence with each movement. I especially enjoyed the feisty movement that was entitled, “A Little Bit of Sin.” Don’t mind if I do.
So, what have we learned this week, kids? 1.) Experiencing old favorites in captivating new ways can be revitalizing…even with regard to music that I’ve heard “a gazillion times.” 2.) The symphony requires more than simply listening to capture the entire experience. 3.) It’s quite possible that Sarah Chang could convince my baby bro to appreciate West Side Story.
I will, however, never be able to match her stamina.