Saturday, February 23, 2008

Smetana, Misha Dichter and professorial dynamics

The boys and I had dinner down in Market Square last night, then headed over to the Tennessee Theatre for the night's Knoxville Symphony concert. The Smetana tone poem was wonderful; not only because of its simple yet powerful chord progressions, but also because I've played it before with the Jefferson Symphony back home, and so the piece served as a bittersweet invocation of times past. Following The Moldau, Misha Dichter (of Cipa and Misha fame) arrived on stage, and the audience applauded gaily. Having read the program notes ahead of time, I knew that a few of his favorite composers were Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky; since he had opted to play a three-movement Tchaikovsky piano concerto, I quipped to my friend that it seemed as though we had "gotten the short end of the stick" in this instance. Turns out, I was right. The pieces were muddy, repetetive and duly unimpressive. I joked, as soon as we had reached intermission, that the concert so far could be summed up by saying, "I went to see a world-renowned pianist play chopsticks." The concert concluded with Dvorak's 8th Symphony, a pleasant Slavonic tune which served to remove the Tchaikovsky left sloshing in my brain. Additionally, the older couple sitting directly in front of us continued to use opera glasses, though for what, I don't know; perhaps they were interested in seeing how sloppy the second violin's fingering was.
One of our favorite professors and his wife were in attendance as well; their seats were down below where we perched in the balcony. They waved up at us at intermission, and we waved back down, then proceeded to invent methods for striking them with projectiles from our beneficially elevated position. I suppose that's what happens when one is forced to listen to a famous pianist pound indiscriminately on a beautiful piano for forty minutes.
I'm just kidding, of course. About hitting the professor with objects from the balcony, anyway.

1 comment:

  1. You neglected to mention the elderly couple in the row in front of us who proceeded, during the quieter parts of the 3rd movement, to audibly provide each other with back rubs.

    It reminds me of a time I heard the BBC Concert Orchestra playing Scheherazade at the Royal Festival Hall. In the row in front of me was a trio of elderly ladies. They picked Rimsky-Korsakov's sublime solo violin passages, representative of Scheherazade herself, to pull out a packet of candy; the kind that are individually wrapped to provide maximum disturbance. Discontented with simply rustling the packet and wrappers repeatedly, the offending pensioners began a short half-whispered dialogue: "Fancy a sweetie?", "Oooh! No thanks, Dearie." Of course, they also applauded between movements. How do people reach such an age without developing some level of common consideration for their fellow audience members, or a sense of respect for artistry of the musicians in the orchestra? Beats me.

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