I Am Sitting In A Room

Commentary and thoughts on (mostly) classical music.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

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.

3 Comments:

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Marcus Maroney said...

Good job - you certainly make the rounds! I was at the Dvorak 7 concert (my partner played in the Jones) - I'm always disappointed by the finale of that piece, I love the other movements. I thought the best performance of the night was Iberia.

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger jason said...

It was a busy week, to be sure. But it was preceded by some inertia that needed to be overcome, so on balance I come out even. I have to admit my attention wandered during Iberia and I didn't really hear it. What did you think of the Jones?

 
At 3:49 PM, Blogger Marcus Maroney said...

I didn't really find it too interesting - maybe because it was out of context.

"Janus" which was done Sunday night had an interesting second movement. The two were composed 40 years apart and it's amazing the difference!

 

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