Šárka from Má Vlast by Bedřich Smetana, now that was pretty bloody well profound! And the anticipation for this intense piece was affably built by guest conductor Michael Francis. With an elegant British accent and witty humour, he described the story behind the Sárka composition. “This will be a most violent and grizzly second half.” Its a story of an enraged Šárka, who rebelled at being ruled by men. She swears vengeance on the whole male race for the infidelity of her lover. And of course there is dancing (nicely portrayed musically by the PSO). Šárka intoxicates Ctirad (who just arrived and falls in love) and his men, who fall asleep (musically the bassoon and horns play snoring sounds). Conductor Francis indicated that “The next part the men will not like” — Sárka summons maidens who kill the men. “She’s rather angry” (Audience laughs). “That’s our second half. Enjoy.”
I rather enjoyed the composition. In fact, later when I got home, and while writting these words, I listened to Wolfgang Sawallisch Conduct Šárka on youtube three more times, it’s intoxicating.
The whole concert was pleasantly surprising. A beautiful rendition of the Dvořák Violin Concerto was expertly played by soloist Christian Tetzlaff, along with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. It was succinct and lyrical, without words.
Mozart’s 40th symphony, with a smaller sized ensemble, was performed with much brevity and wit. These words came to me while listening and enjoying:
Varied are the many folks delinquent with their time.
Through crystal glass they hustle there, filled with pantomime.
They shuffle and they bustle, along the lobby floor,
Ascending crimson carpet stairs bending with contour,
To balconies near yonder stage with players in their prime.
Semicircle gathering of instruments, beyond the patron seats,
Lushly drawing arc-tangents, to beg with their entreats.
And there I stand, pen in hand, anticipation all around,
Contemplating circumstance of mixing sight with sound.
Oh strand of hair hanging there, what purpose do you serve,
One curl to catch a golden glint, G-clef which I observe.
Melody of simple fare, with harmony eclair,
Bode well of fugal interval evolved beyond the flare.
Irrupting contrapuntal chord, symphonic Mozart sound,
Portend a recapitulation, before it’s come around.
Harbinger of a rhythmic phrase, complete the rushing tide,
a tempest and a gentle lull, inscribe the great divide.
Tiptoe the strings twixt oboe and horn, along a flute tightrope,
Walking with a perilous, dangling isotope.
A minuet of Mozart form, deep base to fill the void,
nestles sweet and rather warm, because it’s well deployed.
Finale glides with glorious laughter, racing overhead,
as we perceive an energy, with rhythm quite inbred,
Bows push the final harmony and nothing’s left unsaid.
And I content to linger there reviewing every thread.