Holy cow, I wrote a book!
Last Saturday night, a group of us
a performance of the Seattle Symphony consisting of
the world premiere of the orchestral arrangement of
Shafer Mahoney's Sparkle,
Richard Strauss' Don Quixote (with guest soloist Lynn Harrell)
and concluding with
Brahms' Fourth Symphony.
I was pleasantly surprised by the Mahoney.
World premieres are a hit or miss affair (mostly miss),
but Sparkle had wit and direction.
It had the feel of an overture, because when it was over,
I was expecting Act One to start.
And even today, I can remember bits and pieces of it.
If only all world premieres had such stickiness.
I didn't have high hopes for Don Quixote either,
but for the opposite reason from Sparkle:
Instead of being apprehensive for the unknown,
I was dreading the known.
In my opinion, the piece merely rambles on and on,
and last night's performance... rambled on and on.
About a quarter of the way through,
the muffled electronic tones of a cell phone could be heard.
Imagine our surprise when the guest soloist himself
his jacket pocket, pulled out his mobile telephone, and disengaged
My seats were in the center of the third row, so I had an excellent
view of this surreal scene.
(The first-desk second violins, who were counting rests at the time,
found this rather amusing.)
The final piece was reassuringly Brahms.
I wallowed in the melancholy of the falling thirds and
the lyricism of the Andante,
and smiled to myself whenever I caught the opening theme returning
in a different guise.
The performance seemed to rush in places,
during which the orchestra had some difficulty keeping together,
but I was satisfied overall.
(Of the four symphonies, this one has the weakest ending, in
my opinion. It feels like he went, "Oh, right this is the last
variation, I should put a big chord here.")
It so happens that my seat was positioned such that I was
in the line of sight of the second first violin as well as the
second second violin.
When they were looking at their music, they were looking pretty
much directly at me;
it was kind of creepy.
I could see their eyes dart from the music to their stand partner
to the conductor.
Both of them are long-time symphony members so I recognized them
quickly enough, but my previous seats were much further away,
so I only knew them from afar.
Up close, I could read the expressions on their faces.
The second first is really their acting concertmaster who sits second
the Seattle Symphony is auditioning for a permanent
concertmaster after a messy break-up with the previous concertmaster.
She was all business, hardly cracking a smile the entire time;
this is something that is completely lost on me when I'm in the upper
orchestra much less the third balcony.
(I had to scour the program to figure out who the
guest concertmaster was this evening.
Elisabeth Adkins' name was dropped into the program
incidentally in a paragraph attributed
to Gerard Schwarz.
She wasn't listed as a guest artist or in the orchestra roster.
It appears that
Ms. Adkins is a finalist in the concertmaster search.
She did a fine job on stage, but the real work of the
concertmaster is behind the scenes,
so I don't know how well she fared there.)
Here's what Wendy had to say about the concert.