Rhapsody in “Blues” – Bethany Hensel

It's been forever since I was at the symphony last.  In between getting sick, family stuff, personal obligations, and just crappy  weather, I've missed several shows and have really really been feeling the void. 

The saying is quite true: absence makes the heart grow fonder.

So when I got the invitation to see Rhapsody in Blue, featuring solo pianist Gabriella Montero – and KDKA gave the thumbs up sign that the weather would be spectacular – I jumped at the chance to go. 

And as the orchestra launched into the first moment of Barber's Symphony No. 1, it felt like I was coming back home.  I immediately sunk into my seat, relaxed and content.  It was great to be back in th Hall, whilst a masterpiece was being performed right in front of me. 

But, here's when it got a bit…disappointing for me…where the "blue" comes in from the title of this post.  I didn't like the Rhapsody in Blue number.  Now, let me just say that the following in no way reflects on the talent and prowess of the PSO or the soloist, Gabriella Montero.  Quite to the contrary!  It was only because of they're showmanship that I was able to even sit through it at all.  You see, I HATE jazz.  Loathe the very sight and sound of anything to do with jazz.  I can't tell you why; I've no idea where such passionate antogonism comes from for jazz.  I just really really really don't like it. 

The only reason I mention it at all is to prove the point that in the hands of people who really know what they're doing, anything can be made, if not downright beautiful, exceptionally tolerable.  There was a moment, nearing the end of the 15 minute piece, that I was actually beginning to enjoy it.   It got very lyrical and "full" to me. 

For the jazz lovers out there, you will absolute LOVE Rhapsody in Blue.  For the non-jazz lovers, you will find it pleasurable to listen to, but it really won't make you swoon.  If you want to swoon, stay for the second half of the program, Mendelsshon's Symphony No. 5.

Now THAT is a score!  Felix Mendelssohn can basically do no wrong.  He's prolific.  I fell in love with his Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra, and ever since then, have devourd his work.  It's great stuff, and has withstood the test of time. 

And Andres Cardenes was absolutely flawless in stepping into the role of conductor from first violin.  He wasn't as uh, energetic as some of the European conductors, but he was perfectly poised and passionate and was a joy to watch. 

all in all, my welcome back to the Hall and the PSO was a great one. :) 

Except for the jazz (delicate shudder)

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