Today hasn't been a great day (more on that another time), but it ended with a bang. I was lucky to score a ticket for the Boston Symphony with James Levine, which was at NJPAC tonight. Beethoven's Seventh Symphony comprised the first half, and it got the best ovation of the evening from the audience. I know -- you're thinking that sounds more like the second half than the first half. But it worked -- because the second half opened with Elliot Carter's Horn Concerto. Yeah... not exactly a crowd-pleaser, despite Mr. Carter becoming a centenarian yesterday. Fortunately, it was short. Finally, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. Wow wow wow.

The piece was included in Disney's original Fantasia -- it's the segment with the dinosaurs. (Otherwise known as the segment I always fast-forwarded through on video, since I didn't care for the dinos.) If you've never really listened to the piece without watching the movie, I have to recommend it highly. It's completely different -- at least to me -- than it was to those imagineers at Disney. I really heard the jazz influences (it's an early 20th century piece), much more so than I had ever noticed previously. I found it all very compelling.

See, orchestra concerts are really visual experiences to me, and there's a whole lot going on here. Eight horns, I think, two tubas, two sets of timpani, five bassoonists, and a whole slew of other folks. It was really edge-of-my-seat listening and watching at times, since I don't know the piece that well -- every new entrance came from a new sound and a new direction. (Here's the instrumentation list if you're interested.) Apparently, I either couldn't get past the Fantasia version in my head or I just didn't pay enough attention in music history class. Or something.

I can't remember ever hearing this done live before. Totally worth it, even though it made a 14 hour day. Sure am glad to be home ;)

No comments: