I went to see the SLSO the past two weekends, but I’ve been too busy looking for a job to get on and write about it.
Last weekend, I went to see a pretty cool program. They played Thomas Adés’ Asyla and Beethoven’s Ninth. It was a good program. The Adés piece was really very interesting. The title is the plural for the word Asylum, which you don’t hear too often. I suppose the piece was about emotions and feelings that could be associated with an asylum. It was four movements, and only the third movement had a title.
One really cool thing about the piece was that they used an incredible amount of percussion. The entire back of the stage was filled with percussive instruments, many of which were used only once or twice in the entire piece. There were two pianos, one of which (an upright) was tuned a quarter-tone flat to the Steinway. From what I gather, Adés specifically requested that arrangement to simulate the effect of church bells, which when sounded create many tones in the overtone series that can’t be played by an even-tempered instrument such as a piano.
The overall effect of the piece was not unlike a John Cage piece- it sounded cool, but it wasn’t particularly narrative. It was something that I know I could have enjoyed more if I had studied the score. Asyla is definitely something that I plan to hear again, and next time I’ll be more prepared.
And Beethoven’s Ninth was Beethoven’s Ninth. I didn’t think it was performed that well, and a few other people I know agreed. Clearly, there’s not much anyone can say in way of criticism towards the actual composition, however the Ninth is a monster and should be adequately rehearsed. I regret to say that I can’t offer specific examples as it’s been a week since I heard it, however I do remember that I was underwhelmed by the performance on the whole. The Scherzo, I do remember, was really very good though.
This past weekend, I went to a very nice Casual Concert at the SLSO. It was the first performance in their four week summer series. Overall, they played very well. Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninoff, Mendelssohn… can’t do much better than that!
Other than that, I’ve been trying to relax after the semester. I got an A on my Mahler paper, so I’ve been feeling good about that.
Things I’ve been listening to:
Bach- The Goldberg Variations (enjoying the never-ending comparison between Glenn Gould’s ’55 and ’81 recordings…)
Saint-Saëns’ Third Symphony “Organ”
Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words (all of them, but I’ve been specifically enjoying Op. 30 No. 1)
Brahms- Piano Quintet, String Quintets, Clarinet Quintet
The new Wilco album (it rocks)
That’s about it for this post. I’ll have more time to write soon.