Oh hum, just another fantastic concert at the San Diego Symphony. The lineup of Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, and Rachmaninoff make for an accessible concert.
These are all crowd-pleasing composers with a flair for the dramatic and the romantic. There was some violence in the mix as well on Saturday night.
Symphonic Dances Final Lazarev
Dvorak’s The Midday Witch started the festivities with a heavy program based on the Czech version of the boogie man. The Czech Midday Witch will come and steal children in broad daylight. She doesn’t need to sneak around at night.
Guest conductor Rory Macdonald gave us the synopsis before the music started. A mother and child are at home and the child keeps interrupting the mother’s work. The mother warns of the Midday Witch and the child continues to interrupt.
The witch shows up and tries to steal the child. The mother resists. The father comes home for lunch to find the mother grieving for the child who was smothered in the tussle with the witch.
We could take the story at face value as a standard folk tale. Who knows, it might be only that, but I’m feeling as though there is something else going on here.
Could it be that the mother and the Midday Witch are one and the same? Does the Midday Witch lurk in the breast of every caring mother? If this is a story of infanticide, then it’s a helluva lot scarier.
Goto Midori gave a jaw-dropping rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The accompaniment from the orchestra was sufficiently subdued in order to allow most of the solo part to be present.
It is tempting to overlook the physical aspects of playing thousands of notes when they are played with equal amounts of command and finesse resulting in a musical experience that is a MIdori concert.
Yet, there are thousands of notes in the solo part of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and on this occasion they all got their due. They were all in their place and the right time with the right amount of attention and intensity. It is appropriate to be in awe of such a physical accomplishment, even more so when it appears to be “no big deal” for a soloist such as Midori.
The orchestra was not subdued during Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. The title might be more appropriate if it were Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Krumping.
Rachmaninoff has the reputation, and deservedly so, of being a lyric composer of gorgeous and sensual melodies. In the Symphonic Dances he is more of a destroyer — more Kali than Aphrodite.
Kali is the goddess of death, time, and doom with a strong association to sexuality and violence. It appears as though sex and violence sometimes go together. Something tells me that Rachmaninoff understood this.
This piece of music doesn’t record well. I’ve listened to recordings in the past and none of them had me overly excited to hear this music. Hearing it live is a different story.
Hearing it live has got me comparing it to death, doom, sex, and violence. The San Diego Symphony and Maestro Macdonald brought all of that and maybe even a little more to their performance.