After taking a couple of months off, I went to an orchestra concert on Thursday night. Last week’s program had sparked my interest when it was announced last year, and I thought it definitely merited a night out.
Ludovic Morlot, conductor
RAVEL Ma Mere l’Oye
TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto
RAVEL Pavane pour une infante défunte
SHOSTAKOVICH Symphony No. 9
The concert began with an announcement – due to an airline losing her luggage, tonight’s soloist would be performing in street clothes. That was a first for me. I was hoping Midori would walk out in torn jeans and a t-shirt, but she wore a conservative black shirt dress instead.
Midori’s career started when she was 11, and despite the passage of 25 years since her debut, she still looks remarkably young. She’s one of those musicians who appears completely consumed by the music – eyes closed, body in constant movement, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she’s playing in front of 2,000 people. With all that shuffling around, she reminded me of a boxer in the ring.
Imagine for a minute that you are Shostakovich. It’s 1945, your country has suffered through a terrible war, and Mother Russia looks to you to compose a monumental hymn of victory. It’s your 9th symphony, so you also have the ghosts of Beethoven, Schubert, Dvorak and Bruckner looking over your shoulder. So what do you do? You write a symphony of modest length and considerable humour, a work you would later refer to as “a jolly little piece”. Stalin and his comrades were not amused – I guess the irony was lost on them.
The symphony itself went pretty well. The various solos were really well done, and the circus-like brass sections brought a smile to my face. It’s too bad that a couple of hundred people didn’t return after the intermission – they missed a memorable performance.
Oh yeah, the concert ended just in time for me to catch the overtime of the Sens – Sabres game. It was fun to sit backstage with some musicians and watch the final few minutes. Pinchas even called to get the play-by-play from Pace during the shoot-out. It was just like old times…