March 26th, 2009


at Symphony Hall

"Beethoven once remarked that if he had understood the arts of war as well as he had those of music, he could have defeated Napoleon. Who, listening to this concerto, could doubt that?"
These were the last two sentences in the Program notes for Beethoven's Emperor Concerto which we saw performed by the London Symphony Orchestra with pianist Alexei Volodin last night.

They also played the Prokofiev Symphony No 5 which is a huge piece with a stage full of musicians and a hall full of sound. Not really suitable for listening to on an iPod. It was a wonderful concert with two big pieces very well performed.

Our seats were front row first balcony very close to the stage (about the closest we've ever been) and you get a really good view of the performers as well as a slightly different sound than further back. They used the European formation with the second violins on the right and the basses on the left. Where we were made it difficult to see the basses and the harp because they were almost under us. Sitting up so close with the violas facing us let us really hear some juice viola parts. The second movement of the Prokofiev has some really nice brass and other winds. The conductor, Valery Gergiev, conducts without a baton and he did a lot of motion with his right hand - somewhat different than his left - with wiggling fingers.

The guy sitting next to me took a couple of pictures of the orchestra with his iPhone and posted to FaceBook several times, at least once during one of the pieces. He was paying full attention to the music so it wasn't that he was bored.

Sitting up so close made me muse about the idea of a piano with its bass strings on the right instead of the left - wouldn't that be more suitable for an English orchestra?

Also I am happy to report that I saw only one light bulb out in the ceiling chandeliers. I still wonder how they change them. Huge ladder - I doubt it? Lower the chandeliers? Super Kangaroo?

And they all died unhappily every after

OK, so tonight we watched the PBS King Lear. And that's my plot summary.

Ian McKellan as Lear was perfect. I didn't recognize any of the other names in the cast.

My favorite characters in Lear are the evil nasty sisters: Goneril and Regan; and especially Goneril - fortunately they don't get killed until close to the end because I would have missed their presence. To be honest I find it hard to track the big picture of the "plot" but all the interchanges are very fascinating.