Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beethoven and Another Premiere

December 12th marked my second TSO trip of the month. A performance of Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony (#6), and a world premiere of a new violin piece commissioned by Robert McDuffie and the TSO from Philip Glass. It's a modern take on Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Technically it was the third time it was performed, since the TSO had done in at the Wednesday concert, then Thursday at my other favourite place, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. According to a few reviews the Glass piece stopped the show. Which is perhaps why they reversed the order and played the Beethoven first.

It was the first casual concert that I'd attended...half hour earlier start, no intermission, and a party in the lobby afterwards. We didn't really stay for the party, but the straight through performance worked well. It was also the first time I saw Peter Oundjian conduct. He's ok, certainly not boring to watch or bad, and he shared with the audience a bit of history on how he knew McDuffie (back when they were both at Julliard and recognized each other while wanting to purchase the same steak at a grocery store...who knows if it's true or not). I always like it when conductors interact with the audience.

As for the music, well you'd have to mess up Beethoven a lot for me to dislike it. I think Symphony 6 is my favourite. It's just so lyrical and really gives the feeling of the countryside. Not being a huge fan of violin solo works, I'll admit to finding the Glass piece a little long. Amazingly played though. How someone can memorize a 45 minute piece is beyond me! The style is repetitive, although there were enough new themes to keep it mostly interesting. I do like the combination of solo "songs" and then the orchestra movements. Perhaps a bit more guidance as to what theme might be winter, spring, summer, fall is needed for me. Although part of the point I expect is that the audience decides for themselves. The double stops were great! Something I'd never heard before.

All in all an enjoyable evening out.

More later, as my December with the TSO continues.

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