Thursday, July 17, 2014

Art I'm Making: New Collages

More collages using the green papers I've recently made, as well as indigo papers from weeks past. One also uses a scrap of orange that goes back months. You never know what will turn out to be just the right element to complete a composition. These are Untitled Collage No. 50 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 51 (Santa Rosa).

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).

Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014



Wines I'm Making: Last Sulfur Spraying (July 17, 2014)

It's a bit late in the season to be spraying the grapes, but I noticed a hint of mildew in some of the shadier sections of the rows, so I decided to spray once more. The sprayer broke in the middle of things, so I failed to get the back side of the back row done, but there's nothing I can do. Hoping for the best. The grapes are just beginning to show a hint of color; veraison has begun. Time to get up the nets and turn on the electric fence.

Art I'm Making: New Collages

I make collages by pasting together pieces of paper onto which I've directly painted with acrylic paints or made mono-prints on (again using acrylics). I recently made some attractive mossy green prints that have become part of new collages. Shown here are my Untitled Collage No. 48 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 49 (Santa Rosa).

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).


Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014

Food I'm Eating: First Homemade Pesto of the Year (July 12, 2014)

Two events mark the true start of summer: Picking the first homegrown tomato from the vine and making the year's first batch of homemade pesto. Cherry tomatoes are already ripening here. Full-sized tomatoes will require another couple of weeks it looks like, but I've just finished making the first pesto of the season. Fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, raw garlic, and salt. Nothing else. Basil gets my vote for most useful of all the herbs. It can garnish tomatoes and it makes pesto. Even a small garden can grow enough to provide pesto all summer long and then, frozen, for most of the winter as well. Presented here in a cup made by local (Sebastopol) potter John Chambers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Art I'm Looking At: Current Exhibitions at the De Young, San Francisco

I visited the De Young Museum in San Francisco again recently and took in most of the current exhibits. There was a lot to see. For starters, the museum is now showing pieces from a very fine collection of Native American art donated by the Thomas W. Weisel family--Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection (to give the show its full name), on view through January 4, 2015.

Most of the pieces are the work of southwestern tribes. Notable are a group of very early Mimbres earthenware vessels decorated with pigment (above) and a large number of Navajo weavings, including several very fine early "chief's blankets," but there are a few choice Northwest Coast pieces too, including a striking Tsimshian mask with shell inlay (left; circa 1800-1850), and a small group of plains "ledger drawings." These last are simple, rather poignant drawings made on ruled ledger paper of the kind distributed to reservation schools by the US government--evidence of traditional activities (drawing) surviving during the period of forced assimilation. This exhibit alone is well worth a visit to the museum.

Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jayne Meyerhoff Collection (through October 12, 2014), seemed poorly organized. It would have been easy enough to present these works simply as highlights of the Meyerhoff collation, but the introductory text in the galleries sets up expectations that go unfulfilled. The text suggests the show will pose and attempt to answer questions about the motivating forces behind postwar American art without really doing that. The arrangement of the works in the galleries seems fairly arbitrary. A chronological approach might have been more effective if the intent was to show the range of styles American artists have explored in the last seven decades (the works range from the late 1940s through the present, more or less, with many familiar names represented). That said, I thought the exhibition was worth seeing. The highlight was Barnet Newman's 16-panel series The Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani presented in a chapel-like setting, as originally intended. Pictured here is Third Station (1960). Each of the paintings repeats a basic composition with variations. Newman called the series (painted over about 8 years--between 1958 and 1966) a "complete statement of a single subject," according to the gallery text, and that abstract meaning would seem to fit the works better than the religious idea that was their original armature.

Perhaps most interesting, however, was a show of Walasse Ting's 1¢ Life, a large book of Ting's poetry. I had never heard of Ting or his book, but I very much enjoyed seeing this collaborative creation, which, published in 1964, is 50 years old this year. A remarkable group of 28 artists worked with Ting to illustrate with lithographs a collection of 61 of his ungrammatical, chaotic, evocative, sometimes comical poems--artists including familiar names like Asger Jorn, Karel Appel, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Joan Mitchell, James Rosenquist, Sam Francis, Tom Wesselman, Pierre Alechinsky, Jim Dine, Mel Ramos, and Robert Indiana, as well as some names less familiar to me. A lot of fun on many levels, the book is notable for Ting's exuberant poetry (some of it difficult to read on pages displayed upright well below eye level), for the lithographs, and for its very conception--as an interesting example of bookmaking (although the volume on display is unbound; 1¢ Life appears to have been conceived as a portfolio). It functions as a snapshot of lithography of the period, especially interesting for the inclusion of several artists not much accustomed to the medium. It's unclear to me whether Ting's odd use of language was a direct result of linguistic weaknesses or if he knew better and deliberately chose a pidgin-like idiom that evokes Hollywood caricatures of Chinese, non-native speakers of English. To give just one example, a verse from his poem "Go Back Infant" (illustrated by Karel Appel) reads (all in caps):

Syphilis from mother life from father
Electric chair and gas chamber from government
Can you fly
You female grow big breasts mangoes
Garbage flower
Marry millionaires
Happy
Mink coat better than skin skin better than heart
Heart better than soul
Hair grease best
Woman not spring? Spring not perfume? Perfume not happiness?
Where happiness
In afternoon tea?
In beauty salon?
In television set?
Go back infant
Go back Angel

Strange, but often compelling language typifies the writing. The exhibition of Walasse Ting's 1¢ Life is showing through September 7, 2014.

Art I'm Making: More Abstract Collages (June-July 2014)

I continue to make collages. Here are two more, these still made using scraps from sheets of paper painted or printed on weeks before. Sometimes the oddest small bit of paper left over from other work is precisely the shape, color, or visual weight needed in a new piece--which makes it hard to throw scraps away; nothing seems like trash.

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).


Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014




Friday, July 4, 2014

The Cocktail Glass Collection: La Casa Bar and Restaurant, Sonoma, California

Walking around the plaza in the town of Sonoma last week I spied a neon sign with a cocktail glass in front of La Casa Bar and Restaurant (121 East Spain St.). It was daylight, but the sign was lit. This one has a very simple, stylized glass with no stirring stick, but a circle of citrus fruit appears to adorn the edge of the glass.

To see more in this series of photographs, click on the "cocktail glass collection" label at right.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recent Photography: June 2014

I carry a camera with me almost everywhere I go. Phone cameras have made that easier than it once was, and I usually have a phone with me, but I usually carry a full-sized camera as well. This month that allowed me to take advantage of serendipity in capturing two virtually monochromatic scenes that I chanced upon. At a restaurant in Calistoga I found myself the last diner, lingering over a late lunch. The table across from me had seated a party of eight loquacious Chinese women, tourists apparently. Each had left a cloth napkin at her place after eating. The piles of cloth were lit obliquely and from above by high windows. The piles of cloth were beautiful. I photographed several of them quickly before the busboy whisked them away into a grey plastic bin and left the room with them.

Ocean Beach in San Francisco afforded another such opportunity. Ocean Beach is mostly a long stretch of rather flat, monotonous, grey sand, but it forms small dunes along the roadway that parallels the water. These little dunes can be fascinating. I love the patterns created by tiny sand slides, the ripples molded by the wind, and the lines drawn by insects walking across the surface. Unintended art, serendipitous art.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Art I'm Looking At: Intimate Impressionism at the Legion of Honor

I recently saw the "Intimate Impressionism" show at the Legion of Honor, in San Francisco, a show somewhat inappropriately named, as it looks at works not only by Impressionists but also by artists belonging to considerably earlier and later artistic movements, including several that never exhibited with the Impressionists or adopted their style. Most of the paintings are on loan from the National Gallery of Art. That said, the works on display generally are small works intended not as showpieces or for salon presentation, but for hanging in homes--works intended for intimate settings--and the show hangs together such as it does because of that common thread. I suppose curators know the word "Impressionism" brings in the public. I found the exhibition most interesting for the examples that seemed atypical of many of the artists represented.

Of particular interest were a lovely plate of three peaches by Fantin-Latour, known more for his floral still lifes; several pre-Impressionist scenes by Eugene Boudin (although these were rather typical harbor scenes); and most especially, a pair of landscapes by Odilon Redon, nothing at all like the symbolist works he's known for. One of these (Breton Village, c. 1890) is shown here above. A number of unusual small works by Pierre Bonnard were of interest. There was also an attractive Gauguin self-portrait (visible behind the viewer in the top photo). Perhaps most popular (judging from the attention it got and the spontaneous conversation it engendered among visitors) was a still life called Mound of Butter (1875/1885), by Antione Vollon on the model of earlier Dutch art. Everyone seemed impressed by the skill of the rendering but fascinated also by the sheer volume of butter represented. All in all an interesting if not especially cohesive show.





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Art I'm Making: New Collages

I continue to work making collages--five new ones since last reporting. These are "Untitled Collage No. 41" through "Untitled Collage No. 45." Needless to say, I'm pleased with them--or I wouldn't consider them finished works--but I particularly like No. 43, No. 44, and No. 45 (Shown at top, in that order). I've just cleaned out my piles and piles of painted paper scraps. I now need to get out the paper and paints and create some new raw materials. The next work I do will reflect the colors and textures of this new raw material, while these last pieces share traits of earlier pieces.

I'm happy to report that the Sonoma County Art Trails jury chose me as a new Art Trails participant for 2014, so I'll be opening up my "studio"--just a space on my office floor, actually--for the open studio weekends in October. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by. Click on the pictures for larger views. For more, use the "Art I'm Making" tab at right.

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).


Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014



Monday, June 2, 2014

Miscellaneous: Yet Another Deadly Mass Shooting

At the end of last month, in Santa Barbara, California, a young man, armed to the teeth (with apparently legally acquired weapons) randomly shot and killed six people and wounded another 13. It's sickening that we have to talk about such an incident yet again. In my view, the problem is at least partly that we've acquiesced in accepting false interpretations of the 2nd Amendment. The idea that the 2nd Amendment gives every individual the right to possess and carry deadly weapons is wrong and historically novel. James Madison's original wording of the Amendment makes it absolutely clear what was intended. A well-regulated militia is unambiguously equated with organized military service.

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well-regulated militia being the best security of a free country; but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person."
– Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 1st Congress, 1st Session: pp. 451. 

The 2nd Amendment, although confusingly worded in its final form, does not say what gun advocates want us to believe it says. It says nothing about the gun rights of individuals. It’s time to take back the 2nd Amendment.

What a country this is: Legal to carry a loaded AK-47 down the street, illegal to carry a glass of wine down the street. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Miscellaneous: Things You Didn't Know Existed

In a hardware store recently I found myself looking at a tray of lotion for cow udders. OK, so cow udders get chapped and dry--I didn't know that. And someone has developed a fix for the problem: Udderly SMOOth. I laughed out loud.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wines I'm Drinking: Portalupi Wine, Healdsburg, CA

I stopped into Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar at the corner of Healdsburg Ave. and W. North St. in Healdsburg yesterday, tired after a long day of landscaping work, to treat myself to a glass of wine with my lobster roll--a late lunch. I noticed a Vermentino on the wine list from Portalupi Wines, a winery I'd never encountered before. At its best, Vermentino is both crisp and flavorful. It seemed a perfect choice, as I wanted something refreshing--although I was wary; so many California versions of the more obscure European grapes turn out heavy, monolithic, and too alcoholic to be either refreshing or very interesting. I ordered a glass, reassured by my waitress, who appeared to know what she was talking about, and I was impressed from the first sip. I very much enjoyed the 2013 Vermentino from Portalupi (from the Las Brisas vineyard, in the Carneros region). It was exactly what I wanted. The wine has fruity presence and good length with just the right amount of crisp, balancing acidity (suggestive of key limes) to make it seem delicate. An excellent example of wine made from this grape--as good as any I've had in the variety's heartland, in Sardinia.

Vermentino seems to be gaining a foothold in California. Mahoney Vineyards, also in the Carneros region, has a good reputation (although I've not tried their wines yet). I've tasted the Vermentino Tablas Creek Winery (affiliated with France's Château de Beaucastel) is making in Paso Robles and I've talked Vermentino with one of its champions in the state, Ken Volk, who makes Vermentino wines (and many others) in Paso Robles. There has been activity in the Lodi area and the Sierra foothills as well. I look forward to tasting more Vermentino wines from local producers (and it would be nice to see them on retail shelves at the kind of affordable prices they go for in Italy--often less than $10 for even the best examples--where they are everyday wines).

While eating, I happened to look across the street and was surprised to see a sign for the Portalupi Wine tasting room, literally a stone's throw from the raw bar--something of an odd coincidence. I resolved immediately to stop there after my lunch. I ended up having a very enjoyable conversation and tasting, the wines poured by the winemaker himself, Tim Borges (Portalupi is his wife's family name). Borges has been making wine for others for decades, but the Portalupi label appears to have emerged around 2002. The Healdsburg tasting room has been in operation since 2010. Portalupi makes small lots (10 wines totaling about 5,000 cases annually) and the love shows. I tasted all the wines available in the tasting room. I was particularly impressed by the Vermentino (as noted above); a somewhat unusual, but quite successful white blend wine that Portalupi packages in what look like liter milk bottles; and a wonderfully perfumed old vine Zinfandel redolent of raspberries that put me in mind of Paul Draper's Geyserville. That said, the entire line-up is marked by a refreshing lightness and restraint that gives the wines more elegance and nuance than is often the case in California. Delicious. Recommended. The Portalupi Wine tasting room is at 107 North St., Healdsburg, 95488 (707 395-0960) grazie@portalupiwine.com.

I have no financial connections of any kind with the companies mentioned in this post.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Plants I'm Growing: In the Garden Now (May 18, 2014)

This is perhaps the prettiest time of year in the garden. Everything that blooms in the spring sees to be blooming at once. The late Rhododendrons, several different Phlomis varieties, roses, rock roses, and various other flowers. The first blossom on the potted beavertail cactus in the driveway opened yesterday, May 17.

The garden is neglected at the moment, the result of too much time spent working, but the flowers are still pretty. The photo above is the Cistus (or rock rose) called "Sunset." Below pictured are Phlomis fruiticosa (Jerusalem Sage) and one of my favorite roses, a single-petaled variety called "Nearly Wild."




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 40 (May 9, 2014)

Finished another little collage yesterday, mostly in the color of faded blue jeans, white, and with a little green in it as well. Acrylic on paper, acrylic mono-print on paper, collage. Image size 10 x 10.8cm.

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).


Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014

Serendipitous Art: Paint and Street Markings

Recently on business in the Haight in San Francisco I had a little time between appointments to wander the streets. I found this patch of spilled blue paint run over by a tire atop a bright yellow street marking of some kind. I thought it an interesting abstract composition. Unintended art, serendipitous art.

For more unintended art, see my blog Serendipitous Art.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Cocktail Glass Collection: Murio's Trophy Room, San Francisco

On business in San Francisco recently I found myself with a little time to kill in the Haight. I came across Murio's Trophy Room, at 1811 Haight St. I snapped a photo of the bar's neon sign to add to my growing collection of photos of neon cocktail glasses in front of bars.

To see more in this series of photographs, click on the "cocktail glass collection" label at right.

Wines I'm Making: First sulfur spraying 2014

Finally got around to doing the first sulfur spraying in the vineyard this year. Everything looks good, but normally I like to have done the first spraying a little earlier. The weather has been cool, clear, and mostly dry, though, so mildew risk has been low, and now the earliest growth on the vines is protected. Looking at the plants as I worked, I notice that the Sangiovese buds are just starting to open. The Cabernet vines, as usual, are behind but should be flowering soon.

[Naturally, we had an unexpected rain shower the following day, so I'll have to do it all over again....]

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rain: Another Quarter Inch (April 24-25)

We had a little more rain on the 24th and 25th, a total of about a quarter of an inch. That brings our 2013-2014 total to 22.00 inches. That's still well below normal, but not as bad as everyone feared earlier in the year. We could use another ten inches, but that's unlikely to happen. The forecast is for warmer, drier weather ahead. That said, 22 inches is enough for most native plants to get by on.

[On May 8, we had an odd day of mist and drizzle that added 0.2 inches to our annual total, now 22.20 inches].

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 38 (Santa Rosa); Untitled Collage No. 39 (Santa Rosa)

 Two new collages. These made from scraps left over from other work, again predominantly in shades of indigo and orange. Untitled Collage No. 38 (Santa Rosa) and Untitled Collage No. 39 (Santa Rosa). Both were made using paper either painted directly with acrylic paints or mono-printed. The first of the two, includes some graphite scribbling.  April 23, 2014. Image size 9.3 x 11.3cm (No. 38) and 13.5 x 10.5cm (No. 39).

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).


Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014



Wines I'm Making: Shoot Thinning 2014

It's that time of year again--time to thin shoots on the vines ahead of the first sulfur spraying. As it's supposed to rain tomorrow, I'm waiting to spray until the showers are behind us. In the meantime, I've been trying to get the shoots thinned out so the vines are ready for sulfur treatment as soon as things dry out again. The photo above shows Sangiovese vines in our backyard before thinning. The photo below shows some of our Cabernet vines after thinning.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Wines I'm Drinking: 2011 Argentina Copado Torrontés

Lately I've tasted quite a few examples of wine made from the Torrontés grape, many of which I've enjoyed, so I picked up another I happened across today--this one the 2011 Argentina Copado Torrontés, from the San Juan region of Argentina. Brief tasting notes follow.

A very pale gold, as most Torrontés wines are. The wine smelled fresh and sappy with exotic hints suggestive of coconut, citrus, and beeswax, with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc-like gooseberries and with restrained floral scents as well. Sipping the wine, it was tart at first, with the citrus element (limes, perhaps?) predominant. There was a fruity sweetness and more body on the mid-palate, with a hint of coconut milk and a little tannin in the middle as well, followed by a long, slightly unctuous finish. This has somewhat less of the refreshing acidity of the best examples of Torrontés I've had, bit it doesn't come across as heavy either. Not great wine, but interesting and affordable--one of my favorite kinds of wine.

The labeling is a bit odd. I'm not entirely sure of the name of the maker. On the back of the bottle, the wine is described as having been produced by "Facility I. N. V. No. H72312 for CIAL S.A. Exporter No. G89670." I'm not sure what that means, although it's probably nothing ominous. I imagine this is the product of a local cooperative. Quite drinkable and an excellent value at only $3.99 at my local (Santa Rosa, CA) Grocery Outlet. For more wine reviews, use the Wines I'm Tasting tab on the right. More about Torrontés wines (or use the search box above).

I have no financial connection with the producer, importer, or retailer of the wine reviewed. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wines I'm Making: New Growth on the Vines (April 17, 2014)

The grapevines in our backyard have come to life again. As usual, the Sangiovese vines are ahead of the Cabernet vines, but all the plants have leafed out. The longest shoots are about a foot long. It's almost time to thin the shoots and to spray the new growth with sulfur for the first time this season. In the photo above, you can already see the tiny flower clusters that will become this year's grapes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Cocktail Glass Collection: Negri's in Occidental, California

Negri's is a hotel in the small town of Occidental, California, in Western Sonoma County. The hotel has a bar with an old school neon sign out front. This example has a skewered cherry, I believe--the neon looks red, anyway. I suppose it's a Manhattan that sits atop the lettering.

To see more in this series of photographs, click on the "cocktail glass collection" label at right.

Art I'm Making: Untitled Collage No. 37 (Santa Rosa)

Another collage. This one using circular elements and remnants of the indigo and orange papers I made a while back. Acrylic on paper, mono-printed elements, graphite, collage. Image size 14.5 x 16.9cm. April 1, 2014.

Click on the images for larger views. For more, use the Art I'm Making tab to the right or visit my collage and photography website at http://ctalcroft.wix.com/collage-site/ (requires Flash Player).

Visit my studio during the 2014 Sonoma County Art Trails open studios event, Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th and Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Music I'm Listening To: Garrick Ohlsson with the San Francisco Symphony (April 11, 2014)

I attended the April 11 performance of the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Hall with Herbert Blomstedt conducting. There were two pieces on the program--Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 before intermission, with Garrick Ohlsson at the piano, and Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 after the break.

The Mozart concerto is probably his best loved, his best known. How many times have I heard it on the radio or on recordings I own? I have no idea, but I'd never heard it performed live before. And what a pleasure to hear Ohlsson play it with such precision--every note articulated, every note in its place--played without fuss, without idiosyncratic imposition of self. This was perhaps the purest Mozart I've ever heard. Ohlsson seemed transparent. By none of this do I mean to suggest Ohlsson's playing was mechanical, lacking emotion, or sterile: Quite the contrary. Ohlsson's genius was very much evident. By communicating the writing so simply and clearly, he achieved far greater emotional impact than many who try much harder. Ohlsson appeared concentrated and involved, entirely confident and content, engaged in a restrained dialog with the orchestra, focused on his fingers and the keyboard with no extraneous movement. It was simple. It was beautiful. It was simply a beautiful performance. The audience was very appreciative, bringing Ohlsson back on stage several times (although the hoped-for encore did not materialize). I noticed in the program  that Ohlsson uses cadenzas by Radu Lupu, one of my favorite pianists.

During my freshman year of college--when I first started exploring classical music seriously--I listened to Bruckner  quite a lot, but moved on to other things fairly quickly (there was so much new to hear). Doubtless I've heard snippets of Bruckner on the radio since then, but I can't recall sitting down and listening to a recording of a Bruckner piece since that time--for several decades, in other words--and last night was the first time I'd ever heard anything by Bruckner live. Although, I do vaguely remember that the Symphony No. 4 was my favorite of the symphonies, the familiarity of the piece was something of a surprise--at one time, I must have known it well--but I've never heard it before like last night.

While the Mozart performance was superlative, the Bruckner was even better--one of those concert hall experiences that make you inwardly (sometimes outwardly) giggle with joy, one of those experiences that give you goose bumps. I don't know what to say except that the orchestra--always very fine--seemed in top form, every performer in synch with the rest of the players and with the conductor, who must know this piece very well, as he conducted with no score.

The tempos seemed perfect throughout. The challenging horn entrances were handled beautifully. Blomstedt elicited wonderful performances especially from the darker sections of the orchestra--notably the double basses, the bassoons, the low end of the brass section, and the violas. Easily the best performance of the Bruckner Symphony No. 4 I've ever heard--and am ever likely to hear. While it is a very long piece and it gets a bit repetitious (especially in the third movement), it's full of melodic invention and textures and it has quite a few hooks that satisfy. My thanks to the conductor and all the performers for giving me a new appreciation of the piece.

The rest of the audience seems to have felt much as I did. A sustained standing ovation began immediately after the maestro lowered his hands. Blomstedt, looking a bit frail but very lively nevertheless, delighted in acknowledging the various sections of the orchestra. I think the French horns and the violas got the biggest surges of applause. I'm happy especially for the violas, who always seem to get less attention than they deserve. A memorable evening.

Photo of Herbert Blomstedt courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony (uncredited). Photo of Garrick Ohlsson by Philip Jones Griffiths, courtesy of the San Francisco Symphony.
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