Friday, May 4, 2018
In particular, Bavouzet,—dressed fairly casually for a classical soloist—managed to give a powerful, rapid-fire rendition of the Liszt while managing to look cool as a cucumber throughout. He had a commanding presence on stage, handling the technically challenging concerto with an air of utter confidence. Meeting him briefly after the concert to get an autograph on a copy of Volume I of his recordings of the Beethoven piano sonatas (Chandos), he achieved the same effect—seeming completely relaxed yet deeply engaged at the same time.
This was the first time I'd heard the very familiar The Planets live. It's always fun to see how the sounds of a familiar piece of music are produced. The Planets gives all parts of the orchestra lots to do, particularly the two harps and a celesta among the less common instruments. Virtually the entire audience turned around to look behind them for the source of the wordless voices coming from somewhere in the upper balconies as the ethereal end of the "Neptune" section faded to a close.
Photo of Jean-Efflam Bavouzet by Paul Mitchell. Phoo of Christian Reif by Terrence McCarthy. Photos courtesy of San Francisco Symphony.
Perhaps the strongest impressions the book leaves are, first, that the history of Western Europe, dominated for so long by the Hapsburgs, might have been very different for any number of reasons—that the Hapsburgs remained in control of things (to the extent that they did) for as long as they did often as much because of luck as anything else—and, second, that large swaths of Central Europe were settled by one group of people, completely de-populated (ravaged by war, disease or both) and then resettled so often (rinse and repeat) that few of the ethnic narratives that have fueled rabid nationalism in modern history (meaning the past 200 years or so) have much basis in fact—that they are often myths fueled by little more than wishful thinking and opportunism.
To say that the history of Central Europe is confusing is an understatement. I'm not sure reading Danubia did as much to clarify things as I would have liked, but, having read the book in anticipation of a trip to that part of the world in June, I feel somewhat more prepared than I might otherwise have been. All joking aside, the book has at least helped me to better understand the history of the Holy Roman Empire, of the House of Habsburg, and of the 30 Years' War, among other institutions and events, if not allowed me to remember precisely which Charles, Franz, or Rudolf did what when. Recommended.
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
And, as we all know, making wine is easy; growing great grapes is hard--and you can't make good wine from bad grapes. I'll finish thinning our little backyard vineyard tomorrow.
Sunday, April 29, 2018
For more of my collage (and other) work, visit my website at http://ctalcroft.wixsite.com/collage-site.