Posted by: jkirkby8712 | April 3, 2012

Saturday, 31st March 2012 – Being entertained by a suburban orchestra!

But before we get to that, the following are the couple of verses of poetry I placed on Face Book this morning, part of a longer piece by the poet [Alec Hope], but I thought the two verses was enough, and gave some indication of what the ‘story’ of the poem was!

  • For every bird there is this last migration;
  • Once more the cooling year kindles her heart;
  • With a warm passage to the summer station
  • Love pricks the course in lights across the chart.
  • Year after year a speck on the map divided
  • By a whole hemisphere, summons her to come;
  • Season after season, sure and safely guided,
  • Going away she is also coming home;

[from Alec Derwent Hope, 1907-2000 ‘The Death of the Bird’]

I was not particularly happy with my hour at the gymnasium this morning, didn’t really feel as though I was enjoyed what I was doing, it was ‘tough’ going!! But we followed that hour up with an iced coffee, two weekend newspapers, and a bit of food shopping, including a brief hello to Susie who was serving behind the counter at Baker’s Delight. Back home for a brief spot of watering and weeding in the front garden.

The usual long drive over to Heidelberg preceded by necessity tonight’s concert by the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra in the spectacular Performing Art Centre. An impressive program of music planned for the concert tonight which went under the general title of ‘The Emperor’.  I quickly noticed that the HSO had a new CD available for sale – at $15, a worthwhile addition to my radio collection, containing samples some of the orchestra’s more recent performances. On the program tonight – Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dance No. 1; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 [the ‘Emperor’ Concerto], and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, which I actually could not recall having heard or played previously. The guest pianist, for the Beethoven work, was local and national performer, Amir Farid, winner of the 2006 Australian National Piano Award along with many other awards and scholarships, and performed with many of the major Australian symphony orchestras.  Meanwhile, I had my usual seat, up the top near the rear of the Centre – a spot I preferred, though as related to someone later, not the best of places to be if anything [health wise] went wrong – nowhere to ‘hide’ in the Ivanhoe Performing Arts Centre. And prior to the concert, we were given the usual reminder by the lady MC about, not just turning off mobile phones, but about Melbourne audiences reputation as concert ‘coughers’

Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dance No. 1 was one of three such pieces he composed in 1941, whilst recovering from minor surgery, in New York.  Quite a bright piece of music of about 12 minutes duration, with elements of jazz and folk music creeping into the melody on the odd occasion. An example of his late style of composing [he would die in 1943], with a energetic mix of shifting harmonies, with some pleasant combination of instruments such as the harp, glockenspiel, flute and piccolo featured near the ending. I guess the jazz flavour came through with a beautiful theme played by the saxophone near the end of the first part of the composition, and of course, listening to the violins, gave this writer a desire to learn to play the violin one of these days! Will probably never happen, like so many other ‘wild’ ideas, but one can but dream occasionally!!

The guest pianist put in his appearance for the second item –  Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto [Piano Concerto No. 5]. Over three movements [though to be honest, I only noticed two], this lasted just on 40 minutes, and was as always, a beautiful piece of music to enjoy.  This is often described as Beethoven’s most innovative and ‘heroic’ work in the concerto style,  and allows for both, interplay between the solo piano, and the orchestra [not the complete HSO this time], and some wonderful joint movements. Beethoven wrote it between 1809-1811 and it was to be his last piano concerto. It was first performed in 1811, and as is often the case, the composer did not give it the title of the ‘Emperor Concerto’ –  in fact not generally known where the name came from!

After a suitable encore from our guest pianist, and an interval period, which saw this concert goer remain in his seat rather than join the crush of bodies out in the lobby, we were entertained by a composition from Antonin Dvorak [1841-1904] which I can’t recall actually listening to previously –  his Symphony No. 8 I G Major. Interestingly, Dvorak, who is the best known of Czech composers, was the son of a humble innkeeper who had planned to have his son apprenticed as a butcher!  A good thing for the world of classical music that didn’t eventuate!   As the program notes indicate, Symphony No 8 is known as the English Symphony because he had the work published by the English firm Novello. Dvorak wasn’t satisfied with the classical form of the symphony and his work on it lead more towards a symphonic poem, and ended up being considered the most ‘national’  in flavor of all his symphonies. Tonight, the work was just under 40 minutes in duration, and was in four movements – oddly, when it was first played in 1890, with Dvorak directing, the audience was asked to refrain from clapping between movements – that is the normal practice for classical music these days, but obviously wasn’t always the case [I still prefer the attitude taken to a lengthy jazz piece – if the audience enjoys a particular movement or solo piece, they will applaud, and so it should be!!].  Anyway, No. 8 was a very enjoyable piece of music, typical of what one might expect from Dvorak’s romantic musical tradition, and his drawing, particularly in this symphony, from the Bohemian folk music of his time, but expressed in the symphonic language. So the only movement of the four which did not have attached to it the description of being lively and fast, was the Adagio in the 2nd movement, we experience tastes of village band music, and the expressions of beautiful ‘bird’ music  through the flute and oboe components of the orchestra.  A recording I don’t have – must chase it up for my Sunday morning program!

The night ended with the obligatory encore, and the usual over-inflated audience applause, which I often see as the bulk of a concert audience following like sheep in maintaining sustain periods of clapping. Applause where it I deserved as tonight’s concert certainly was, but I sometimes wonder at the ‘mentality’ almost of the way it continues at times. Mind you, I probably enjoyed that a little more than the hour long drive home, although I did manage to find a pleasant jazz program on 3MBS, the alternative Melbourne classical music/jazz radio station to the ABC Classic FM network!  Home before midnight – no sign of Susie having returned from wherever she went tonight.


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