In my third Columbus Symphony concert in three weeks, I had the good fortune of sharing the music with a friend of mine from work, Sarah, as well as my young nephew, Ben. Sarah had been to the symphony before, but Ben never had, so I was excited to see how he took it all in.
Ben has been learning the guitar the last couple of years and is into music. In fact this year, he started playing the alto sax. His first question to me when I picked him up on Saturday evening was: Are there going to be any saxophones?
Sorry, kid. No saxes. Columbus Symphony – how about some jazzy tunes next time so my nephew can hear the sax? No? OK – I had to ask.
Last weekend, I went to the theater early to listen to a pre-concert talk by Christopher Purdy of WOSU radio. It was fun – and insightful. He talked about the composers and their music so we could learn some of the back story on what we were about to hear. I threw out the possibility of going again this week and both Sarah and Ben wanted to go.
|Ben – waiting for Christopher Purdy to start the pre-concert talk|
It was nice having a little while to learn about the program and Mr. Purdy always makes it both fun and interesting. He included snippets of music and humorous anecdotes about the composers and times in which they lived. It’s just the right amount of info to keep a 10-year old – already in a food coma from our earlier trip to Five Guys – interested before the concert started.
|The view from our seats – way up in the upper balcony|
Like many of the CSO Masterworks concerts, this week’s concert was themed. Titled “In Nature’s Realm,” it was performed in the acoustically-amazing Southern Theater which is a couple blocks south of the Ohio Theater in downtown Columbus. Included in the program were pieces that all had something to do with nature: Gioachino Rossini’s Overture to William Tell (the reason why most everyone came to hear the orchestra play?); Jean-Féry Rebel’s Les Elémens (Cool baroque-era music!); and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastoral” in F Major, Opus 68 (not enough loud parts).
Unlike the first two concerts of the season, where Maestro Zeitouni didn’t say a single word to the audience – not even hello, welcome, yo, ça-va,? nothing. – he was rather talkative this time around. He even had slides! (Side note: loved the accent, but I was a French major, so go figure. Ahem.) Before each piece and while the seats were being rearranged, he talked about what they were about to play. It was all really interesting so I hope he does it more often. Sarah and I especially liked the part where he had the orchestra play little passages of the Rossini piece up against similar portions of the Beethoven for comparison.
In honor of Maestro Zeitouni’s slide show, I’m including a nature shot or two of my own. Let me know if you feel inspired.
|Griggs Reservoir Park – Columbus, OH|
The order of the performance was as I listed it above: Rossini, then Rebel, then Beethoven. Had I been given the option, I would have done the complete opposite: Start with the Beethoven, intermission, Rebel and then Rossini – so it ends with a bang. Instead, the exciting piece was first and not-so-exciting piece was how the concert ended. Ben told me that there just weren’t enough loud parts.
Beethoven? Not enough loud parts?
He was right! According to Ben, the Beethoven was his least favorite of the three and I tend to agree with him. It’s a beautiful piece, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not that exciting and it’s pretty long – about 50+ minutes. It deserved its own half, sure, but the ending just, well, happened. It’s as if they just stopped playing without the benefit of a definitive ending. It even took us, the audience, a moment or two to realize it was over. There was no exciting finish.
Had it ended with Rossini, we would have been excited. We would have been jumping up and down in our seats. OK – so maybe not the jumping up and down in our seats part like we did back at IU when we played the William Tell during the second half of all the Hoosier basketball games – but the excited part, definitely! And no – I didn’t yell out I! U! during that part. (I thought it though!) The Rossini was the fun piece of the evening and would have been a fitting end to the concert.
Heck! Maybe we can just put together a completely new concert! Maybe we can pull some Beethoven pieces from Immortal Beloved and throw in some music by Mozart. We’ll title it: Immortal Amadeus! Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, a Mozart piano concerto or two, and some more Beethoven, perhaps his 7th symphony since I really like the Allegretto movement. If Beethoven can make up his own 4-1/2 hour long concert, I’m happy to do the same.
Yet an other opportunity for the folks at the CSO to roll their collectives eyes at my idea. (They still haven’t called me about being a seat filler for the clarinet section. So bummed.)
With regard to this weekend’s concert, I personally liked the middle part the best: Rebel’s Les Elémens. Loved it, actually. Jean-Féry Rebel (more French!) was a court composer for King Louis XIV. He starts off with a funky dissonant chord at the very beginning to make the audience go “hmm,” and then it’s all wonderful, Baroque, musical goodness to the very end. I’ve already downloaded it off iTunes.
Glinka last week – hein – it was OK, but Rebel, I really, really liked. Thank you, CSO, for exposing me to something really terrific!
|Scioto River at Griggs – Columbus, OH|
All in all, it was a wonderful concert, at least according to me, the non-10-year-old. The Beethoven was beautiful. You can’t go wrong with Rossini and I absolutely loved the Rebel.
Ben told us all afterwards that he really liked the concert, so I hope to be able to take him to another one – perhaps in the new year. Maybe I’ll introduce him to some more baroque music in the new year when the CSO puts on a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Still no saxophones, but we can work on that!