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Making love to goats, Rachmaninoff, and Elgar

I’d say Hough and the conductor may have had some sort of falling out.

Modest Mussorgsky. What’s missing from the Disney version, in Fantasia, is the witch’s sabbath.
Modest Mussorgsky. What’s missing from the Disney version, in Fantasia, is the witch’s sabbath.

The San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday, March 16, started with a rather famous piece of music entitled Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky. You may have heard it once or twice within the Disney arena. What’s missing from the Disney version, in Fantasia, is the witch’s sabbath. The ominous music is supposed to be portraying a witch’s sabbath and that has some complicated and severely pagan elements. 


Mussorgsky described the witch's sabbath in a letter. For starters, the witches create a strong brew, possibly a psychedelic, and drink it. They have brought with them an adolescent male goat. After drinking the brew, the witches work themselves up into a frenzied circle surrounding the kid. Satan’s spirit inhabits the goat and begins selecting the witches he is going to make satanic love with. Yes, that means what you think it means. It should be noted that there is no evidence of a witch’s sabbath having ever occurred. However, Goya painted one and Berlioz also used one in Symphony Fantastique.


The performance was tight. I’m not saying the orchestra had imbibed a psychedelic witch’s brew but they did whip the music up into a frenzy. 


I’ve long been an admirer of pianist Stephen Hough. I specifically remember his performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. It was quite authoritative. 


Imagine my surprise when he sat down to play Sergei Rachmanoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and proceeded to stretch a nine-foot condom over the piano with the opening chords. The entire performance was clad in safe sex. Actually, it was more like a lecture about safe sex. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. Rachmanoff's second piano concerto is one of the sexiest pieces ever written but not on this night.

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Hough appeared to be playing the piece as fast as possible with no nuance in the phrasing. I don’t recall him looking at the conductor at all. The orchestra struggled to find its footing and the performance rode the ragged edge of disaster for its entirety. 


I have no idea what was going on but if I were to guess, I’d say Hough and the conductor may have had some sort of falling out. That is nothing but conjecture on my part but something was definitely up.


Conductor Lionel Bringuier managed to pull out a magnificent performance of Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations which was the final piece. I will say that his style of conducting wasn’t my cup of tea but it was effective in the Elgar. The discombobulation of the Rachmaninoff was absent in Elgar and the concert came to a satisfying conclusion.


Video:

Night on Bald Mountain - Fantasia



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Modest Mussorgsky. What’s missing from the Disney version, in Fantasia, is the witch’s sabbath.
Modest Mussorgsky. What’s missing from the Disney version, in Fantasia, is the witch’s sabbath.

The San Diego Symphony concert on Saturday, March 16, started with a rather famous piece of music entitled Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky. You may have heard it once or twice within the Disney arena. What’s missing from the Disney version, in Fantasia, is the witch’s sabbath. The ominous music is supposed to be portraying a witch’s sabbath and that has some complicated and severely pagan elements. 


Mussorgsky described the witch's sabbath in a letter. For starters, the witches create a strong brew, possibly a psychedelic, and drink it. They have brought with them an adolescent male goat. After drinking the brew, the witches work themselves up into a frenzied circle surrounding the kid. Satan’s spirit inhabits the goat and begins selecting the witches he is going to make satanic love with. Yes, that means what you think it means. It should be noted that there is no evidence of a witch’s sabbath having ever occurred. However, Goya painted one and Berlioz also used one in Symphony Fantastique.


The performance was tight. I’m not saying the orchestra had imbibed a psychedelic witch’s brew but they did whip the music up into a frenzy. 


I’ve long been an admirer of pianist Stephen Hough. I specifically remember his performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. It was quite authoritative. 


Imagine my surprise when he sat down to play Sergei Rachmanoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and proceeded to stretch a nine-foot condom over the piano with the opening chords. The entire performance was clad in safe sex. Actually, it was more like a lecture about safe sex. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing. Rachmanoff's second piano concerto is one of the sexiest pieces ever written but not on this night.

Sponsored
Sponsored


Hough appeared to be playing the piece as fast as possible with no nuance in the phrasing. I don’t recall him looking at the conductor at all. The orchestra struggled to find its footing and the performance rode the ragged edge of disaster for its entirety. 


I have no idea what was going on but if I were to guess, I’d say Hough and the conductor may have had some sort of falling out. That is nothing but conjecture on my part but something was definitely up.


Conductor Lionel Bringuier managed to pull out a magnificent performance of Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations which was the final piece. I will say that his style of conducting wasn’t my cup of tea but it was effective in the Elgar. The discombobulation of the Rachmaninoff was absent in Elgar and the concert came to a satisfying conclusion.


Video:

Night on Bald Mountain - Fantasia



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