Thursday, January 12, 2006

Alexander Nevsky

I believe that I promised a number of days ago to tell you all about the DSO's treatment of Mahler's Sym #5. First off, I think Mahler's Fifth Symphony is my favorite symphony, not just of his, but all composers (that I now know). I must have heard it first in a performance in San Francisco, but can't remember really how I came to know it. I bought the CD and played the heck out of it. And then one day a couple of years ago I lent it to my cousin. He loved it, too, so I gave him his own copy and told him that the next time the DSO performed it, we would go. When the schedule for this season came out, there it was, but not on a Friday which is the series I always get. I told him to hold the date (tough thing for a very busy teenager) and I bought the tickets back in November. Not only was it the DSO playing my favorite symphony, it was going to be conducted by one of my favorite conductors, Peter Oundjian.

The performance was this past Saturday and we decided that we wanted to get there early to hear the pre-concert talk with Charles Greenwell. Since we both love the piece of music, we wanted to know as much as possible. Mr. Greenwell blew through the Mozart symphony (#35) that we were going to hear first pretty quickly, since the meat of the program was the Mahler (17 minutes for the Mozart vs 72 minutes for the Mahler). He went through each movement and played excerpts from each (except the fourth because he said it was too cruel to cut that beautiful music off) and explained things. It was quite interesting and helped me to find the recurring themes – I'm not a music person in the least, so I need that kind of pointer. My cousin, on the other hand, actually understood even more of what was said since he plays the trombone in his high school jazz band (which won a contest in Hawaii last year – the hosting school has always won it previously).

We were mesmerised for the full 72 minutes (except when shaking our heads over people leaving during the nominal break between movements) by the sheer power of the piece. As I said I'm not musically inclined, I just like to listen to music, so I can't tell you how the bass clarinet complemented the English horn or anything like that. All I can say is that if you like classical music (and not just the Baroque and Romantic periods) and are willing to give something written in the 1900s a try, this is worth the effort. And if it's being played live somewhere near you, go! And get seats up high where you can see the whole stage because it's fascinating to watch, as well as hear. There were a few times when only one instrument was playing and I thought it was the flute (or whatever) and when I looked, it wasn't the flute and I had to look around the stage to find the instrument. My cousin said he experienced the same thing. And when every single instrument on the stage is being played, it's just overwhelming as the music washes over you. I was exhausted, yet exhilarated when it was over. And the audience showed their appreciation by giving them a five to ten minute standing ovation. We made Mr. Oundjian come out at least five times. And unlike the people who walked out, I could have sat through a second performance immediately thereafter, although I'm not sure the symphony could have played it a second time that quickly. I'm sure it's a physically demanding piece.

And that is my not so expert assessment of the DSO and Mahler's Fifth. And for a real review, go here.


At Thursday, 12 January, 2006, Blogger mr. schprock said...

I bought a Mahler symphony on impulse many years ago because the record store was playing it at the time. Unfortunately, I don't know which symphony it was, because it was a record I bought, not a CD, and my records got phased out of my life roughly ten years ago.

I'll check it out.

At Friday, 13 January, 2006, Anonymous Smed said...

Well, let me tell you that some of the tunes you are about to receive will be miles away from Mahler. Miles away. Even though they are from Michigan's once-finest Stooges influenced / Post Punk / Grungy / Filthy Rock and Roll Band.

At Sunday, 15 January, 2006, Anonymous smash said...

Hey, I just read the comments you left on my diary, thank ye muchly. And yeah, about the spiders, I hate killing them, too, but seriously they scare me! *cries*

And I am so so sorry about your sisters cat. My lovely ginger cat, Tom, was 16 when we had him put to sleep in March 2005. He had cancer, sadly. I cried and bawled in the vets place, watching him fall asleep for the final time. I can understand your sisters not wanting to get another cat right now, but she will change our mind. I've still got my other cat, Gizzmo, who is black and white and eleven at the moment. Hes cool!

And hey, about relationships, never give up, okay? I know theres a lot of heartbreak out there waiting to happen, but theres decent babes and dudes out there, too. When you're ready, go out there and find some well deserved love. It's sometimes easier not to, but your life is so enriched by having someone to share it with.

Be cool, babe.


At Sunday, 15 January, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

I"m not sure I've ever heard that one. I better go check it out!

At Thursday, 19 January, 2006, Blogger Clarity25 said...

Mahler symphony sounds beautiful, I have to look into that. Thanks for your last note, and also your T.V. show suggestions.

I hope you're having a good week, Kathleen!


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