Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Latin-inspired season finale at the ESO

I'm falling behind. In previous years I've been pretty good about keeping up with the ESO concerts (and other theatrical events) I've attended. I completely missed blogging about one earlier in the season, and I'm a couple of weeks behind on this one. I didn't want to let the season finale of the Friday Night Master's concert series go without a mention--it was an excellent concert. Full orchestra, great selections, both Bill and Lucus took the conductors stand, it was pretty darn awesome. However, since my memory is getting a bit hazy around the details, I'm going to make this blog post short and sweet.

The first half of the concert had a Latin flavour to it, which was delightful. I would imagine that when many people think of a symphony orchestra, they think stodgy, boring music with grand overtones, not Latin rhythms. The first selection by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla was anything but boring. Bill played the piano for this, Noches en los Jardines de Espana (“Nights in the Gardens of Spain”) while Lucus conducted. As explained later at the after thoughts, Bill was going to conduct from the piano until he remember the last time a someone conducted and played this piece where things fell a part and the orchestra members were missing cues. The ESO performed it splendidly and I think I might like to get a recording, definitely a new favourite.

The remainder of the evening featured music by Ravel. To follow the Latin theme the first half featured Rapsodie Espanole then in the second half, the full score of Daphnis and Chloe. I have exerts of Daphnis and Chloe on CD (on the same one with Bolero--which I requested after discovering Torvil and Dean when I was about 12), but had never heard the whole thing. I understand the whole Daphnis and Chloe suite is rarely reformed (the exerts are far more common) and I can understand why. It required a full orchestra--I think I tried to count at one point and there were close to 100 performers, including 2 auxiliary percussionists (something like 6 or 7 in total). One got to operate a 'wind machine.'* And the melodic themes were constantly changing; however it's a beautiful piece and I think it's considered Ravel's masterpiece, even if he didn't enjoy writing it.

I think that's all I'm going to say. Sorry, no comments on the Rapsodie Espanole, as I started off by saying, this concert took place more than 2 weeks ago, and my memory is waning. It was a fantastic end to the season; however, and I'm looking forward to next year. Andrew and I will be moving from our dead-centre row seats to a loge. We decided we've had enough of crawling over knees, but I'm sure everything will sound just as good from the side.



*We wondered for a good chunk of the evening what on earth the thing sitting at the side of the stage was, and I'm not sure I can adequately describe it now. There was a cloth draped over a wood frame and there was a crank on one end. It made what could be best described as 'wind sound effects' and was constructed by the head percussionist.

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