The week that was...
Saw many concerts this past weekend that I neglected to blog about, partly because I got to do a little music journalism and I was being painstaking about it. I wrote a small article for local ArtsHouston magazine for which I interviewed Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. This was my first composer interview and I could not have had a more gracious subject.
Rice U's Shepherd School of Music had several concerts over the weekend, including their Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. I caught enjoyable performances of Dvořák's 7th and Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin (though I missed hearing the Toccata from the original version for piano). Young 'cellist Yeon-Sun Joo tore into the Schumann Cello Concerto. While she skipped out on subtleties her tone was surprisingly huge and rich. Thursday, the faculty played chamber works of Sam Jones, former department head and current Seattle Symphony resident composer. Jones is a solidly neo-romantic composer fond of bitonality and film-music style picturesque music. His Piano Sonata and Cello Sonata were effective.
Houston Symphony welcomed pianist Steven Hough, who played an elegant and dashing Saint-Saëns Egyptian Concerto. Hough has a very smooth, effortless technique and looked unruffled even during the bravura finale that brought the audience out of their seats. Franck's D minor Symphony closed the program, and though I know the tunes, the workings of the piece are less familiar. The structural incoherencies may have been Franck's failing or guest composer Louis Langrée's. But still, it is beautiful music and was well played.
Sunday caught the final performance of Houston Grand Opera's Idomeneo. Very crisp all around. Richard Croft in the title role was the standout among the cast. Lingering thoughts: amusement that in Greece they call the gods by their Roman names - how prescient! Poor Elettra, she's basically a walk on in the drama, there to be abused by fate - though she does get the most pyrotechnic aria before leaving the stage to commit hari-kari.