Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mozart and Tchaikovsky -- Food for the Soul

Pinchas Zukerman with the NAC orchestra

JMB: I'm getting tickets to go to the symphony with M. Do you want to come?

Old Scientist: Nope.

JMB: Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Are you sure?

Old Scientist: OK. That's different.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is on tour at the moment so last Saturday night, filling in, the National Arts Centre Orchestra performed in the Orpheum theatre under Maestro Pinchas Zukerman. Yes, that same Pinchas Zukerman, one of the world's great violinists as well as long time Music Director of the NACO.

The opening short piece was a contemporary one, Infinite Sky with Birds by Alexina Louie, very fast with the brass being the focus, with support from the strings and woodwinds. I quite enjoyed it however the Old Scientist muttered later if that were on a CD he would skip it. Sigh!

But next followed the Mozart Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No.3, with Zukerman playing the violin and conducting the orchestra. One of a series of five violin concertos it was written by Mozart at the tender age of nineteen years. While not my favourite violin concerto, that would have to be the Mendelssohn, a much more dramatic piece to my mind, it is indeed a very beautiful work and to hear it played by Pinchas Zukerman was a very special treat.

If it please you, here is the Adagio, the second movement played by the great Isaac Stern. This is considered one of the most beautiful sections of any violin concerto ever written. A very old slightly flawed rendition due to age but beautiful none the less.

Sometimes it is a pleasure to just go and enjoy pieces that are very familiar to you, to just relax and let the music envelop you. While the Mozart soothes you with its beauty the Symphony No. 5 of Tchaikovsky fires you up with its passion and its energy. One of several symphonies in which Tchaikovsky explores the theme of Fate, his Fifth Symphony is more evocative of the distant rumble of a funeral march, as the clarinets intone a low and somber theme. As the symphony progresses, the theme returns in various guises, sometimes wistful, at other times imposing, but the general motion is toward an increasing mood of optimism, until, in the finale, Tchaikovsky transforms his Fate theme into a triumphal march.*

Here is the very famous French Horn solo from the second movement with that oh so familiar theme towards the end.

As we were walking back towards the car, the old scientist said, "The first time I heard that symphony live was at the Sydney Town Hall with Kiril Kondrashin with the Stalingrad State Orchestra. The brass were just wonderful and the woodwinds too." What? How long ago this was, since he left Australia in 1957, but he still remembers the experience. I have no idea when I first heard this. Do you? He certainly was impressed.

A lovely musical evening it was, somewhat dimmed by the fact that there was a hockey game plus a football game on that evening. All three events seemed to conclude at the same time with the result that it took me 65 minutes to travel from my parking space on the sixth floor of the parkade to the ground floor booth to pay the parking fee. My poor passengers had to listen to me complain bitterly about people returning to cars on the lower levels long after we did but managing to exit before us because kind people let them into the line of cars. To add insult to injury, when there are hockey or football games on they double the usual parking fee. Next time I think I will take the bus!

*Elizabeth Schwarm Glesner


Ellee Seymour said...

I would so loved to have joined you. I'm still aspiring to play the Adagio from Mozart's Clarinet Concerto.

Dr.John said...

Now that's music the way it was meant to be.

CherryPie said...

I bet that was a wonderful evening :-) Shame about getting out of the carpark though.

Janice Thomson said...

Ahh JMB...music for the soul indeed! Loved this delightful and entertaining post.

CalumCarr said...

What a split: Music which touched the soul and drivers who lit the blue touchpaper!

Must have been brll concert!

Carver said...

I enjoyed the youtube performances you found for us. Sounds like a fun music evening and I'm with you about taking a bus. Anytime a big game is going on around here and I've gone to a play or symphony, I have wished that I took a bus.

jmb said...

I am sure you would have enjoyed it Ellee. I hope you succeed in your goal but time is a factor I'm sure.

Indeed Dr John.

It did spool the evening a little Cherrypie. But I did enjoy it immensely.

Thanks Janice. Old favourites sometimes just hit the spot.

It was brilliant Calum and while I did complain a lot while waiting it was done in a joking manner. After all what could one do?

Carver I suppose the crowds would have been on the bus too as I'm sure lots of people thought the same thing.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Eeek! The parking sounds like a nightmare. Horrible when that happens it undoes much of the pleasure of the evening.

Maybe if it didn't finish too late you could go for a meal, drink, or something if there is so much going on next time, 'till it quiets down.