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What Makes it Great?

Last night we went to another What Makes it Great performance by Rob Kapilow. This one was Mendelssohn's Octet. The way these programs work is in the first half Kapilow and the musicians are in stage with Kapilow talking and demonstrating on the piano and the musicians playing parts as he directs. He breaks down the piece illustrating themes and their relationship to each other. He'll play them slowly, or leave out some of the instruments. Sometimes he plays a less imaginative imitation in order to illustrate how great something is. He gets the audience to sing a bit or test out rhythms. He expounds about the music, the composer, and performance at the time of the composition, and in this case how incredible this 16 year old at-the-time composer was.

After the intermission, the piece is played in full. And then there is a Q&A section at the end. I learned a lot about the piece such as the little theme from the Hallelujah Chorus in the last movement, a piece of the Scherzo (3rd movement) that appears in the last in imitation of a then recent Beethoven invention, how Mendelssohn pioneered conducting an orchestra, and also started the practice of performing old music (e.g. Bach was not generally performed at the time). Two of the musicians used MacBookPros with a two-button foot pedal to turn pages as their source of music and one explained how it allowed him to play from the score instead of just seeing his line because rapid page turning was now possible.

The next What Makes it Great is January 23 with Cole Porter's music.

As was true last year, before the concert we went to dinner with eblaug_rss and RP at Bombay Cafe.

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