Rameau: Helping to fight the inner jive turkey.
  • Rameau: Helping to fight the inner jive turkey.
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This Thanksgiving I’m going to have four of the most delicious, elegant, colorful, and refined side dishes you can ever imagine. However, if one of those side dishes is sweet potatoes there will be marshmallows.

So much for refinement. You can take the boy out of the trailer park but you can’t take the marshmallows off the sweet potatoes.

With my such side dishes I think I’ll forgo the turkey. Who needs a main dish when the sides are so wonderful? That’s about what we had with San Diego Symphony on Saturday, November 11.

There were four fantastic pieces on the program but none of them was the turkey. I hope to God I can find a way to work the colloquialism “jive turkey” into this review. We’ll see.

Video:

Rameau's Les Indes Gallente

All four pieces were of French descent, which is nice as a theme but doesn’t always work out as a concert. The concert opened with Jean Philippe Rameau, a composer of the French Baroque, followed by Ravel, Faure, and Debussy all of whom are from roughly the same period. Ravel died in 1937, Faure in 1924, and Debussy in 1918.

I think the concert would have been more effective if the order of pieces were adjusted. Here is my proposed concert order. Faure, Ravel, Rameau, Debussy.

As it was we had Rameau’s suite from the opera Les Indes Galantes and then an excellent performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G concluded the first half. The soloist for Ravel was French-Canadian Louis Lortie, and he was flawless.

The second half opened with Faure’s Pelleas et Melisande Suite with Debussy’s Iberia as the concert closer. I think swapping Rameau and Faure would have helped. By the time we got through Faure and then into the slow section of Iberia I felt as though I were drowning in a sea of milk chocolate.

The fresh squeezed orange juice of Rameau’s baroque style would have paired nicely with Debussy. Faure’s sentimental style and Ravel’s meticulous approach would have complemented each other as well. Why get so involved with the order of things?

Because we are at that point. The concert felt incomplete but it wasn’t because of the performance or atmosphere. Lest I be accused of being nothing more than a hater let me assure you, dear reader, that the performances were stellar.

I adored the Rameau. It got me hoping for more Baroque.

Baroque tends to be a specialty these days or is limited to Handel’s Messiah, a few Bach pieces, and a few Vivaldi pieces. Rameau was wonderful to hear. The orchestra was reduced to Rameau’s specifications. The sound they created was not necessarily more quiet but it was damped in a most profound manner.

There is a graceful dignity in the best of Baroque music. It inspires a nobility of spirit within me which I deploy to fight my inner jive turkey.

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