music and chocolate maybe a little mozart
by pieces of moments
I’ve been obsessing about color over the last 48 hours. Maybe it’s because my poor brain is numb from seeing white, gray, and brown outside the window. Last night I had some time to spend before heading to the Art Institute to hear Maestro Boulez in conversation with Phillip Huscher (program annotator for the CSO), so like any self-respecting girl I stopped by the nearest Urban Outfitters to check out what’s on the shelves. Hello bright neon pink scarf! I nearly picked it up until I was given pause by the fact I could just make it myself. Sigh. So much for instant gratification in the face of a sparse pocketbook.
Today I had to wear my long gold necklace accented with deep blue gemstones, not so much for the blue but for the gold. Gold = warm. I suddenly feel myself drawn like an insect to a candle at any hint of a warm glow. Even the yellowish writing on my Faber-Castell pen was calling my name this afternoon as I held it in my hand. I nearly broke down and ran to Ten Thousand Villages to buy gold bangles. The situation is becoming dire. Anyone out there who has actually been witness to sunshine lately…can you demand it pay a visit to Chicago? It would be much appreciated.
In the meantime, I have had to make do with the usual: music and chocolate.
On Sunday we attended one of the MusicNOW concerts down in the big hall (Symphony Center). As the CSO is celebrating Pierre Boulez’s 85th birthday year this year, the program was all Boulez all the time…with a couple of world premieres thrown in for spice. So look, the premieres were decent (Johannes Boris Borowski’s Wandlung and Dai Fujikura’s Mirrors), but neither one blew me away, I have to confess. I kept thinking of this blog post by Nico Muhly from a couple of years ago about pieces being “too long.” Both composers were clearly capable, but perhaps sometimes a bit too much. I agree with my friend Evan who noted during our post-concert chat that especially the Borowski could have benefited from some contrasting sonic ideas (too much of even a good thing is still too much). Pierre-Laurent Aimard was impeccable, of course, and I was delighted to hear the pure and unadulterated, yet measured, aggression that fellow pianist Tamara Stefanovich brought to the keyboard during Boulez’s Structures, deuxième livre for two pianos. The best part of the whole afternoon, however (and was alone worth the price of admission) was when Nathan Cole stepped out to perform Anthèmes II, because just as he was a few seconds into the piece there was a massive crashing sound indicating that even IRCAM kids have their computers black out on them. Laughter like sporadic popcorn kernels bursting began to spread through the hall. Don’t you love being witness to unexpected live performance moments like that?? It totally made my day, especially since Cole collected himself and once the difficulties were smoothed over the show when on, as they always must, ending in wild applause for both the piece and for the bravery under fire exhibited by all parties involved.
Less music more talk:
As mentioned, I stopped by the conversation between Boulez and Huscher at the Art Institute last night. I nearly didn’t go because I was tired and as mentioned I’m kinda poor right now (okay, not kind of, I’m totally poor and accepting donations – holla at me). Well, curiosity pays off sometimes, especially when you are standing in line to buy a ticket and some random guy hands you one for free (thanks random guy!!!). The best part about Boulez is his sense of humor and directness. For example, Boulez was asked what constitutes a composer as “modern,” to which he answered anyone who really makes an impact in music and the musical canon is forever changed because they composed, is modern. Thus, Beethoven is super modern. When asked if Bach was then not modern because of his being rather a traditionalist in his day, Boulez refuted by saying that if we were to transport ourselves to Bach’s time that he was doing amazing things and that no one needs to listen to Telemann anyway. Love it. Common – you know it’s true. When is the last time you listened to Telemann? Thought so.
In other news:
My fellow NECers, the Parker Quartet, have this amazing gig as the first ever Artists-in-Residence with Minnesota Public Radio. As such, they recently played live on Performance Today. Check out how beautiful the sonic colors are with which they can paint the air in this Ravel Quartet in F Major (which is one of my favorite string quartets in the canon, by the way). This is just what my dull gray winter days need – more color!
Oh, and today is Mozart’s birthday, of course. Dear Mozart, I’m not that into your tunes, but I salute your importance in the canon of western music! The end.