Local concerts

Before I write about each concert, allow me to introduce this entry: I have a season ticket for the local Chamber Philharmonics, and that for two different series: the main, rather Classical “A” series, and the didactic concerts for children, the “D” series. I go to some others out of those two groups. I try to get a programme and write some notes. Those notes are the ones that I am going to transfer here. It is necessary to keep in mind some factors that affect the nature of the notes. First, the light conditions are not always usually the best, so I need to keep the notes short if I don’t want to ruin my sight. Second, I see going to the concerts as an opportunity to enjoy and turn off my brain: sometimes, trying to apply the knowledge I get from the course enhances my experience of the music, but other times it is the other way round, as too much logic interferes with my playful side (which tends to be put to sleep far too often anyway). Partially related to this is another aspect, i.e. a linguistic one—I cannot always write what I think in English (I could if it was merely technical, but I am still far from achieving that at a satisfying level).

  • Thursday, March 23rd 2017

František Lukáš: Plameny vzpomínekfast episodal speed (one event follows another at a quick pace), even if logical. Are there quarter tones on the high notes of the cello? Gentle dynamics, but extreme pitches, esp. on the higher frequencies. Finger snatches in stereo (first right, then left). Despite the warning from the conductor, it’s good so far! Some techniques sound interesting (fast crescendos from pp to f, but with short rests on each beat, several times per bar). As music, not that bad, it is just that one feels the poor composer must have some really bad memories (the title means Flames of memories).

Fryderyk Chopin: Piano concerto No 2 in F minor, op. 21—this could be Classical (the beginning of the Maestoso). The piano is delicious, glorious, sublime. I can hear the motifs presented by the full orchestra. Disharmonies: YES (and I mean it positively). Probably written to allow the soloist to show off, but for some reason I don’t mind (maybe because I can connect to the music). Wonderfully long sentences and long harmonic sequences. The Larghetto sounds song-like. Still, the music is a continuum: one does not have much of a hint whether an independent section is finishing or not. Maybe that was his intention. It does not feel too long, despite the Romantic air. In the Allegro vivace there are parts played col legno! By Chopin! Strong rhythmic, dance-like impression. Is this a Mazurka? It sounds definitely Polish. Or at least Chopin’s. There is an interesting ascending harmonic sequence after speeding up on the ff piano.

Béla Bartók: Orchestral suite No 2, op. 4

Comodo: temperament, but it’s easy to digest. I thought I was losing the key, but no, false alarm, just an unexpected transition. Same situation later on. Rhythmic cells and give the movement unity, and same with the opening melody. Despite a jazzy touch, Allegro scherzando sounds Hungarian, and very Bartókian (the syncopas belong to both jazz and Bartók, I’d say, but it is maybe the way they are used, combined with wild rhythm and his typical chords that brings us to Hungary). There is a fugato here! Great! If I got it correctly, the structure is A-fugato-A’—and if it is not like that, he succeeds in giving that impression! Andante: is that an A clarinet at the beginning, or a bass clarinet? Different scales being used. The orchestra then adds on top. Some of it sounds like ancient music, like music of some very old civilizations. Comodo: morning-like opening. It makes me wonder why these contrasts do not sound aggressive to my ears. There are some great variations in the main melody.

  • Thursday, February 16th 2017

W. A. Mozart: Don Giovanni (prelude)

Claude Debussy: Danse sacrée et danse profane for harp and strings

Albert Roussel: Concert for small orchestra op. 34

Camille Saint-Saëns: Morceau de concert op. 154 for harp and orchestra

Juraj Filas: 2nd chamber symphony


  • Thursday, April 20th 2017

Lukáš Hurník: Angels Ouverture—the motif starts in major, then moves a bit abruptly to a minor version, but it announces the mood that will be shown later. There are quotations from pop music (but I don’t know the titles… it’s not The Wall). The lower string instruments (cellos, double basses) are placed in the center of the orchestra (this will continue in the second part of the concert). The piece is more and more dissonant (I think one trumpet is out of tune… is this intentional?). I get more and more the impression this could be the background music for a film or a play. A section with solo oboe is very nice, and also the following one, with a nice colour—but generally speaking, it is dark, sinister, ominous, and gives me self-esteem regarding my own work as a composer.

Then I read in the programme that the piece is pretty much a summary of a musical-opera the author wrote more than 10 years ago. That explains also the discontinuity in mood between sections.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano concerto No 6 in D major, op. 61

Allegro ma non troppo: The piano is the most patent feature (duh, Jorge, it’s a piano concerto). In his thoughts and feelings, LvB was probably not upset when he wrote this, as opposed to some other pieces by him. There are some (to my taste) weaker passages towards the end of the movement. The soloist makes mistakes when playing, and that is great: the piece sounds alive. No sarcasm or pun intended. There is no vibrato in the strings (maybe this happens more often than I thought, in performances, but it strikes me this time). I knew the concert, but the cadence at the end of the movement sounds very unfamiliar to me: is this the original one written by Beethoven? It may be that the ones I heard before were not the original ones, or the fact this one is forgettable—and very much Beethovenian in the sense it sounds like “I’m going to present my ideas for as long as I want whether you like them or not, it’s my chance, period”. The Larghetto offers the possibility to follow some work with motifs here and there, but to my ear is rather uninteresting (sorry, I repeat, I am no LvB fan at all, and the more I try, the more I fail). It moves directly to the third movement, Rondo-Finale. Allegro. Too many trills. The solo passages are at points so unusual to me that I wouldn’t be surprised if it continued smoothly as the Pink Panther’s theme. There is a harmonic change that surprises me after a long chord, that is nice.

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No 7 in A major, op. 92

Poco sostenuto. Vivace. Was that the Mannheim’s rocket? It is fast, and still the rhythm sounds heavy to me. Some silence and then a section with a more interesting rhythm follows. The motif is clearer, more expressive—and all in all it sounds better to me than the Piano concerto. Some shifts are very fast—and sound like LvB. The Allegretto is one of my all-time favourite pieces in Classical music (yes, I can like some of his music very much). I kept it in my ears and heart for the following movement, Presto, which I didn’t perceive at all. My mind came back with the Allegro con brio, which was too loud for my taste. All  in all, the best of the venue for me was the Allegretto—and it was nice that my friend Pavel N., who accompanied me, felt the same.


Final note

On the linguistic interference I mentioned in the introduction: I had always been used to listen to music without a conscious language. This has become more so since I have to decide constantly which language to use—and, no, it is not an easy decision and it also interferes with the experience of the concert. Same as colours look differently depending on the language we think in, so is the music interpreted differently depending on the language we use as the base for our listening. Managing to separate language from music implies I cannot write notes. I could draw more easily than that and I don’t feel able either.


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