Friday, June 18, 2010

A Musical Evening

While I should have been home finishing the sewing projects that never end, I was being entertained by the NSO at The Kennedy Center on comp tickets in the 8th row of the orchestra section.  It was an evening I will remember for a long time.
I managed to come up with 2 tickets to tonight’s performance.  I knew it would appeal to my good friend Doug, who has another good friend who is a professor at Oberlin, the alma mater of Jennifer Koh, the guest violinist who was also one of her students as an English major.  So we met up for dinner and the concert.
I’ve never thought of myself really liking most 20th century music, but I’m starting to come around.  For starters, my son Dan gave me a book for Mother’s Day:  The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross.  It chronicles that century of music, starting out with a chapter on Mahler, the composer of the second half of tonight’s performance.
Jennifer Koh was there to play the first violin concerto of Karol Szymanowski, a Polish composer who would have been a contemporary of Mahler.  She was absolutely mesmerizing as she played, showing a passion for music like no one I have ever seen.  It is a colorful piece in one movement with a lot of extremes.  The good news is Jennifer Koh will most certainly be back because her long-time mentor is Christoph Eshenbach, the new Musical Director of the NSO.
We recently saw a documentary from 1984 “The Little Drummer Boy,” an essay written and presented by Leonard Bernstein about Gustav Mahler.  Featured prominently in the movie was Mahler’s first symphony, which in one movement has a curious mingling of Jewish and gypsy melodies, despite the fact that Mahler rejected his Judaism.
Tonight I got to hear all 52 minutes of the symphony, which saw every chair in the orchestra filled and working hard.  As with all of Mahler’s music, it is very demanding to play.  The end builds and builds to what almost seems orgasmic.  
The cushion projects will have to get done some other time.  Tonight I soaked up some much needed culture and the price was definitely right!


Blogger Steve said...

I think Mahler 1 is one of the works we recently saw by him, too. Sounds like a great performance, and a welcome break from sewing!

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, what a wonderful evening! Sounds like you had the perfect companions for your evening, and a very welcome break from that sewing to boot!

I have yet another Mahler documentary to recommend to you -- I'll get you the name ASAP. I've decided that one of the pieces of music I'd like to be hearing as I leave this life is the last movement of Mahler's Ninth...


12:36 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I wholeheartedly support a night with an orchestra over a night with cushions. The latter can wait. It sounds like a great night!

9:50 PM  

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