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Yestereve I took my daughter to a concert, a classical concert for a change.  She's required to go to one for her "intro to music" class and there was a great one nearby.  The New Haven Symphony Orchestra ("the fourth-oldest, continuous professional orchestra in America") was doing a "French Twist" program at Yale's Woolsey Hall.  It was all wonderfully played and the hall is very audience-friendly, not very large and with good acoustics (as far as my untrained ears could tell).

First: Gounod's "Ballet Music from Faust"
More movements (7!) than expected.  The most interesting part for me was that this was written because people felt that Faust was too plain to perform without something added.  It's an interlude; the themes have nothing to do with the opera, it's all about Cleopatra and Nubian slaves and Trojan maidens.  In reviewing it, I'm handicapped by expectations; if it's labeled "ballet music" then I really want to see what the dancing is like.

Second: Saint-Saen's Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Opus 61
Guest violinist was Pip Clarke.  Wonderful name, wonderful violinist, she was great.  The piece is in three movements. Interesting use of brass in the second, very unexpected for a "violin" concerto.

Third, and main piece: Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition", arranged by Ravel
O_o : They left the house lights on!  Seriously!  They wanted us to be able to read the program notes on the different movements.  Never seen that done before.  I love this work, I'll listen happily to any performance (including the collegiate one in the Wikipedia article) but the NHSO did a very professional performance, well worth attending.   And perfect for my daughter's class, because, good gods, it has sections highlighting nearly every instrument in the orchestra.

Fourth: Ravel's "La Valse, poeme choregraphique"
Ahhhh, now this was different.  This was a Viennese waltz as seen by someone who'd lived through and served in the first world war.  Pensive, emotional, discordant, its dancers are in a building that's being intermittantly shelled.  And by the end, both are wounded (hells, one might even be dead) but still held close, still twirling in step, as the building collapses around them.

Well done.  Brava for the guest artist, bravo for the conductor, bravi for the orchestra!



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 20th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
Yr Italian makes me swoon.
Sep. 20th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
It's nearly the only bit I know, so it's a good thing it fits. ;-)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )