Meandering Contemplative Juxtapositions

A misunderstanding or perhaps simply my misplaced accounting of the movements that comprise Berlioz’ Romeo and Juliet led my confused mind wandering down several wrong-way paths of meandering contemplative juxtapositions whereby I was questioning the composer’s dubious choice of musical content meant to picturesquely represent the various scenes
from Shakespeare’s play.
My eventual state of bewildered confusion was only temporary; somehow I was off by two movements. The programmatic music had the titles of the movements listed in the program, and since I’ve never heard Berlioz’ suite before (Suite from Roméo et Juliette, Dramatic Symphony, Opus 17, 1839), and because these are only excerpts (we don’t get to hear the choral finale), I miscalculated where I was along the way.  ‘Love Scene’, I confused for part of ‘Romeo Alone’.  ‘Queen Mab Scherzo’ I substituted for ‘Festival at the Capulets’ followed by erroneously thinking the true ‘Love Scene’ was ‘Romeo at the Tomb of the Capulets’ — a mistake which had me all mixed up, wondering: what was Berlioz thinking? As the music sequenced further beyond what was
published, I realized my mistake, feeling somewhat embarrassed and realizing that instead of misguided, Berlioz was a genius composing such luscious, broad, delicate and sweeping sounds gloriously representing the love of Romeo and Juliet. The real scherzo (not the one I imagined from before) is creative and vibrant and with beating drums and dramatic tempos first fast then slow then fast again.

I really did enjoy this version by Berlioz, yet it’s
difficult not to compare the version by Tchaikovsky which is really
spectacular, so it’s not fair to pit the two against each other
in a hypothetical match-up. Certainly I want to hear the Berlioz version
again, I find that listening to selections repeatedly reenforces my
like for the music.

After intermission we were treated to Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2,
music with which I am very familiar. Nicholas Angelich took complete control with his mastery of the piano. His technique wasn’t subtle, his tumultuous approach at the beginning was enough to wake the sleepiest of patrons, simultaneously usurping the role of the orchestra, at least for movements 1 and 2.

I really do like the music, but for some reason the first two movements seemed too loud for my liking, somehow saturating my senses, like clipping for speakers (when the peaks and troughs of a sinusoidal waveform hit the maximum permissible value, it indicates a signal has been ‘clipped.’). However, the 3rd and 4th movements were just right, the perfect volume, and very well played by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Note to self: get seats further back next time.

I always enjoy seeing guest conductor Gianandrea Noseda with the PSO, he did a great job as always, very animated with adroit clarity – I hope he returns often.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons