Tuesday, June 07, 2005

(:)(:)(:)(: Cleveland Orchestra at Mondavi Center

Despite the fact that it's from Cleveland, the Cleveland Orchestra is world renowned for its precision and virtuosity. So, although I know next to nothing about classical music and have no business having opinions about it, I am thrilled to accompany a friend to see them play at the Mondavi Center in Davis Monday night.

As we settle into our seats, I loudly squeal with joy as I read that two of the pieces are Ravel--I adore Ravel! I proclaim, only narrowly escaping je l'adore Ravel which is actually what comes to mind, I kid you not (I can get carried away). I chalk up the rolled eyes and embarrassed glances around me to envy for my joie de vivre.

As the first strains of Ravel's Alborada del gracioso come, I settle into my seat. Many many minutes pass as I struggle to keep my mind on the concert. Wow, I think, this is so mellow and mathematical, not so exciting, it must be his early stuff.

At the end of the first movement, my companion points to a different page of the program, one which says June 6 instead of June 5--it's not Ravel, she whispers, it's Mozart. Turns out Ravel was yesterday.

I don't know much, but I know that you cannot go around thinking Je l'adore Ravel when you're listening to Mozart.

At the end of the Mozart (Symphony No. 36 in C Major, K. 425 if you must know), I smugly observe that while technically flawless, the piece was soulless. My companion agrees, although she blames it on herself--I guess I'm just not in a place in my life where Mozart can really move me.

I think, I guess I'm not in a place in my life where I can fucking tell if it's even Mozart

The next piece, Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Wind Ensemble by Ingolf Dahl (some obscure german immigrant to the US) is amazing. The passion and virtuosity of the saxophone soloist Joseph Lulloff, whose solos dominate the piece, is palpably infectious--the wind ensemble devours his music and uses each solo as fuel for a brilliant echo. The audience is on its feet for 5 standing ovations as I rush to the bathroom, desperate to recover from an ill-advised 11th hour decaf, then rush to the concessions line to begin the process anew.

Dvorak's Symphony No. 5 in F major is performed beautifully as well, but again my mind drifts, and I find myself comparing music to meditation as many better minds before me must have done.

The drive home from Davis is mostly filled by the sound of one part of my head blaming me for things throughout the evening, the Ravel fiasco, the decaf rush, the fact that I didn't visit the ladies' room before driving home afterwards. Fortunately, though, it is drowned out by the plaintive wail of the alto sax and a determined witness for peace, my better self.

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