From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

We had the most interesting day yesterday. My youngest sister was visiting and she joined us for a Red Hat Lady’s luncheon. They welcomed her warmly and asked where she lived and worked, and then the conversation was off and running. We had lunch at “The Claddagh” as a tip of the hat to St. Paddy’s Day. I had a great corned beef and coleslaw variation on a Reuben. While we were out, we visited Trader Joe’s and Crate and Barrel. Nan egged me on to make a major dish purchase, while she walked out of the store empty-handed!
We made it home a little after 3:00 and then Dear Husband and I drove into Chicago to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I’d given DH tickets for Christmas to hear Sir Alfred Brendel perform Mozart. It was the first time we’d been there since they have remodeled the facility. It’s a beautiful bon-bon in cream, taupe, silver and gold. It just shimmers, and has great sight and sound lines.
We heard Haydn’s Symphony No. 93 in D Major, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K.453, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67. We arrived more than 30 minutes early, and had main-floor seats on the aisle. Rather than get up and down ten times, we spent part of the time standing until the aisle filled. The staff is energetic in getting everyone seated so that the performance can begin on time. We were interested to see the layout change for each performance.
Roberto Abbado was conducting, and he chose to have the basses and first violins to his left, the second violins and violas to his right and the cellos in the center, second row. The woodwinds were behind the cellos and the brass were off to the right, and slightly higher on the risers. There was one lone percussionist, a tympanist.
I thought they were going to have to roll in the piano for Sir Alfred, but we were surprised to see it rise from the pit. Beethoven’s symphony required more performers than the Haydn and Mozart, so there was an intermission before the last selection, so they could get everything moved in place.
The first flute, first oboe, first clarinet and first bassoon of the CSO create a beautiful core of sound for selections like these. Where the musical line moves from one to the next, the trade off is faultless, and the tone quality so perfect that it sounds as though one instrument is playing the line. I closed my eyes to listen just to focus on the incredible sound. It was a wonderful evening, one which we need to do again, soon!
We came home to change our clocks forward, and slept fast. Elegante Mother wanted to go to early church, and then we had breakfast at a great Cajun place, before Nan started the drive home. When you factor in the warm weather, Nan’s presence, and the enjoyable activities, this has to be one of the best weekends we’ve had all winter. Let’s do it again, SOON!

11 thoughts on “From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

  1. Sounds as if you had a really lovely time. Brendel is a magnificent pianist isn’t he, and I have to admit I love all the pieces of music that you heard at the concert. I’m really glad you enjoyed yourselves.

  2. You did a wonderful job of describing the whole experience, Buffy; but I had to giggle–thinking of the classic dining experience review one reads in a newspaper. (How did your listening companion like it?) It’s nice to hear a report from a professional perspective!

  3. Adele, it was exceptional! DH enjoyed himself so much that he asked me to check to see if any BOX seats were available for other performances. He figures I’d be more comfortable, and we’d be just a little above the heads of the orchestra. I’d like to know if the room sounds good no matter where you sit.
    Brendel is amazing. He’s so relaxed and so in touch with what he’s playing. I might never have had the chance to hear him play, if DH hadn’t suggested that we sent his CD to you. This is another example of “what goes around, comes around,” or the boomerang theory of doing good deeds. *G*

  4. Cop Car, Dear Husband seemed to have a great time! He’s probably more knowledgeable about Mozart than I am. He listens to the classical station ALL the time, and tends to remember what he’s heard. I have more training in theory, conducting, and some instruments, but he’s no slouch when it comes to “Classical” music. I probably enjoyed Beethoven’s fifth symphony more than he did, but we both had a good time, and it was nice to have a night out, with just the two of us.
    I want you to know that I spared you most of the chatter that would have taken place if I was talking to another conductor or teacher. I tried to hit the highlights, without telling you what I felt about certain sounds, or interpretations, or conducting style. I hope I didn’t bore everyone with my “review.” *G*

  5. Sounds like a wonderful time. Our red hats are meeting on the 24th. Looking forward to just my second outing.
    Found a red cowboy hat and working on something to wear. I don’t a thing that is purple.

  6. No, Buffy, you certainly didn’t bore me at all. I enjoyed what you said.
    My training in music, both practical and theoretical is minimal. John has none. But John has a passion for music and his ears have been refined by the amount he listens to so that he has developed true discrimination for good music of all types. I’m not as good but I am getting there.
    To my mind love of music is the mark of a truly civilised person.

  7. Hmmm, just realised that I replied to your comment to CC.
    I think you will find the sound in Box seats just as good. Have you ever heard any criticism of the hall having bad accoustics? If you haven’t then I would imagine that the hall has good ones. (A truly great musician like Brendel wouldn’t want to visit a concert hall with bad accoustics as it wouldn’t make him sound good.)
    Yes, what goes around comes around. Sounds good to me. As did that lovely CD you sent us. Thank you again.

  8. Janet, purple isn’t my strong suit, either. Half our ladies dress flamboyantly, and half dress more quietly. Some of them are unable to give up their natural elegance, while others wear every gee-gaw and boa they could find. I think you need to wear what works for you. I tend to look Amish, with a red shirt, purple jacket, black pants, shoes and socks. I have a red Liz Claiborne summer hat, but I need to go hat shopping, and it might help my strange appearance if I added some jewelry to the mix. Have fun at your meeting!

  9. Adele, I think that Dear Husband and John would enjoy each other tremendously! DH has learned about music the same way, and personally, I think it’s the best way. You get to have a pure response to the music, rather than thinking about chord progressions, and motifs and dynamics and such. I’m glad you share our passion for music!
    Don’t worry about responding to the comment I made to Cop Car. This is an open forum, a conversation, and I’m glad that you jumped right in!
    Orchestra Hall has been remodeled in the past ten years. I think the accoustics were good before the remodeling, and they may be better now. They added Lucite panels at the top of the dome to direct the sound toward the audience, so I know that they have been fine-tuning things as they get to know the room again.
    I’ll have to surf to see what I can find concerning how professionals feel about the accoustics of the room.
    I’ve been told that usually the best seat in an auditorium is on the main floor, directly behind the conductor and far enough back so that your head is level with the performer’s heads. We were slightly lower and to the right and the sound was still lovely!

  10. Buffy, I grinned at your description f the panels to direct the sound in the concert hall as it immediately made me think of the Royal Albert Hall. The Hall has a huge dome which I assume is the reason for the echo one hears whenever at a concert there. They’ve put huge saucer shaped things suspended from the ceiling in an attempt to try to reduce the echo but it’s still pretty obvious. It doesn’t affect one’s love of the music though.

  11. Buffy, I agree with you totally about having a pure resonse to music, rather than one restrained by training. I have to agree and to state that YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE TRAINED IN MUSIC TO APPRECIATE IT. So frequently so-called “professionals” seem to think that only they “get” music, because they are “experts”. So not true.

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