Mark Gritter (markgritter) wrote,
Mark Gritter

Culture, High and Otherwise

Marissa and I went to our last concert of the Orchestra season. The first piece was Pan And Syrinx by Carl Nielsen. Nielsen's summary of the tale:
The goat-footed sylvan deity Pan happens to spy the nymph Syrinx among the satyrs and dryads in the hilly Arcadian forest; he persecutes her with his dances and bleating homage. She, terrified by this fierce wooer, flees to the edge of a forest lake. From here there is no escape left for her, and the gods, taking pity on her, transform her into a reed.

Program note:

Pan and Syrnix bears a dedication to the Hungarian violinist Emil Telmanyi and his wife, the composer's younger daughter. Telmanyi was courting Anee Marie Nielsen in autumn 1917, when her father began work on the piece. Nielsen, who initially opposed the match, eventually gave his approval, and completed Pan and Syrinx on their wedding day in February 1918.

Ouch! Beware Danish passive-aggressiveness.

Neither the Tchaikovsky piano concerto (No. 2) nor the Aho symphony (No. 10) were entirely satisfying. While the piano concerto had a lot to recommend it, Marissa and I didn't like the soloist as much as everybody else in the hall did, and his encore really emphasized the aspects of his performance I liked least. I thought he was putting very modern emphasis and phrasing (almost jazzy) on a piece that really was firmly 19th century. The Aho was fun but more of the humor was obscure (we looked for the promised "satire" in the last movement but didn't find it). It had some nice saxophone bits, and the percussionists got to use the "thunder sheet"! But it felt on the broader scale like Aho couldn't make up his mind between a tone poem and a symphonic structure, for all that he followed the broad outlines of the latter.

I received Earth X for my birthday. It's a distopian future in the Marvel Comics universe, in which everybody on Earth has developed superpowers and the Earth is nearing destruction. Unfortunately, it is an extremely talky comic--- too much is narrated rather than shown. Even when non-narrative characters get a chance to speak it is often an extended monologue. While it has great bits, this was overall something of a disappointment.

I also finished Jim Butcher's latest Harry Dresden novel Turn Coat, which was good fun as usual. But I felt that it really copped out on more than the usual number of plot-related issues.

Still to read: Combinatorial Auctions and Cherryh's latest Atevi novel. I want to go see Up but it's likely that will be while I'm out in California next.
Tags: books, music
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