Jun 10

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Nancy and I went to Symphony Center at 6:30 for a pre-concert performance of Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Trio in D Major, Op. 9, No. 2 played by three members of the Orchestra, Qing Hou, violin, Lawrence Neuman, viola, and Brant Taylor, cello. I’m not a big fan of chamber music, but enjoyed this pretty well.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Joseph Karl Stieler (1781–1858): Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis (1820)

After the trio, Lawrence Rapchak, music director of the Northbrook Symphony gave a presentation on the evening’s program. He spent the most time on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 67, but also talked about the Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93 and the Overture to Fidelio. He went through the symphonies, talking about the musical elements and structure, playing themes on the piano or playing excerpts from orchestra performances. His delivery was quick, lively and very interesting. It was perhaps the best and most helpful talk I’ve ever heard about music, especially among the pre-concert talks. I would love to hear more by him.

Nancy and I enjoyed the program conducted by 81-year-old Bernard Haitink. I think my enjoyment and understanding were enhanced by the Rapchak presentation. I heard more and noticed more. It was a memorable evening.

Jan 10

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Eighty-five-year-old Pierre Boulez conducted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert tonight. You’d never guess he was that old by the way he walks on stage and conducts.

We heard Maurice Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin, Suite for Orchestra Marc-André Dalbavie’s Flute Concerto (2006) and Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, Opera in One Act (1918). The Ravel was familiar, but the other two were new to me. I enjoyed the program.

Béla Bartók (1927)

Béla Bartók (1927)

The Bartók was a bit long, but I thought it was interesting both as music and as a portrayal of male and female psychology. I was struck by the familiar pattern of the woman trying to find out about the man she loves, to get him to reveal his secrets to her, to open up the doors to his (well-defended) castle. The man resists, but gradually gives in hoping that the woman he loves will be able to save him from himself—from the monster he is or feels he is or was without her love.