Friday, October 7, 2011

New seats and a new season at the ESP

Last Friday (September 30th) night was our first ESO concert of the year. As noted in the title, Andrew and I decided to request new seats this year. As much as I loved having the dead centre, first row spot, we were getting tired of having to crawl over other patrons' knees to get to them. Now we're sitting in the stage right loge. We have lots of room to stand and move around, and we can shuffle our chairs around to get a better view if we want. The only downside, is we'd have to snuggle right up to the railing to get a full view of the orchestra, which might annoy our section companions--although it's just the violas and some of the brass I can't see. Regardless, I think we both liked our new spots, as neither one of us had sat in a loge before.

Three pieces were on the program on Friday. Two classics, and one brand new piece by the ESO composer in residence, Robert Rival. His piece was titled Scherzo and both Andrew and I enjoyed it. I heard little hints of other pieces I like, which I think is why it resonated with me. It started out with a rhythmic staccato section, which reminded me of the music from the movie, Catch Me if you Can (John Williams). The middle section was a flowing waltz with the melody jumping around the woodwinds. Finally it ended with a lively string section that brought Aaron Copland (I think the Grand Canyon suite in particular) to mind. Rival says in the program notes that he wrote this piece of music to be fun, which I think he managed. It was also originally scored for 9 instruments, then expanded to the version we heard (a small wind section, with the full string complement).

The second selection of the evening was Mozart's 41st Symphony--known as the Jupiter Symphony. I'm not too sure what to say here, I mean it's Mozart, it's the ESO, it was very lovely. This was the last symphony that Mozart wrote, although it was still 3 years before his death, and apparently he'd initially titled it the Zeus Symphony. It was the publisher who changed it to Jupiter.

After intermission was Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major with guest violinist Karen Gomyo. Karen studied at Julliard (when she was 11 years old), Indiana University, and the New England Conservatory of Music. Not to mention, she plays on a Stradivarius violin purchased for her by a private donor. So, was she any good, you might ask? Yeah. She was good. I actually got a little choked up after her opening stanza. When I read in the program that the concerto was 50 minutes long (who else but Beethoven would write a mammoth concerto like that?) I was a little worried it might get tedious, but it didn't. It was fantastic. I'd said to Andrew before the music began that I wasn't sure if this was a piece I knew (I recognize a lot of classical music, but I don't always know what it is), but when we got to the final movement recognition struck. This was actually one of my earliest classical music memories as I'm pretty sure it was one of the Hooked on Classics pop-remix tapes we kept in the car when I was a kid. This last movement is very lively, which made it a fun way to finish the program.

A great first night at the symphony.



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