Thursday, February 18, 2016

'. . .grandiose, tender, stormy, graceful and explosive'

I started this blog – Each New Day – on September 8, 2015. One of the things I said in my opening post was:

. . .I plan to write here often (I almost said “every day” but that puts a lot of pressure on me) so it’s a way for me to practice self-discipline. I preach self-discipline a lot so it’s good for me to practice what I preach.

I remembered having written something like that so I looked back to get the exact quote.

When I make a commitment to do something – like write every day – I take it very seriously. Of course the commitment is only to myself but that doesn't diminish it. I feel kind of bad if I get up in the morning and I haven't put up a new post the day before. I've become attached to the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.

I never run out of subject matter but occasionally, I have a number of posts that want to be written but they require more work, more research, more thinking-through so I put them aside. It's times like that when I go to my archives or do a repeat from this very blog. That works too.

Having said that: we enjoyed a splendid concert this evening with Symphony Nova Scotia and a guest conductor, Jean-Marie Zeitouni.

It was Russian night and featured music by Alexander Borodin, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Igor Stravinsky. The highlight though was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Piano no. 1 in B-flat minor played by guest artist, André Laplante.

Our program pointed out that if anyone in the auditorium were asked to hum a tune from any piano concerto, chances are they'd come up with the opening bars of this concerto, "one of the most memorable melodies ever composed." It's true, it's very familiar. You could hum along almost throughout.

But no matter how many times you've heard it, nothing could compare with the experience of seeing/hearing a pianist like André Laplante performing it just a few metres away. I could quite literally feel my heartbeat speeding up during certain parts. He projected the intensity that he was feeling as he played.

By turns grandiose, tender, stormy, graceful, and explosive, this masterwork remains one of the best-known and best-loved piano concertos of all time.

It was also considered so difficult when first written that Tchaikovsky eventually made some changes that made it more playable. It's still considered technically challenging. André Laplante did a masterful job so much so that the usually proper Halifax audience applauded after the first movement, unable to restrain itself. (I've only seen that once before during a performance by the irresistible violinist, Giora Schmidt.)

Once again, we were uplifted and educated by an evening of fine music and I enjoyed writing this even though it might have seemed that I was making excuses when I began. Not at all. I was just talking myself into it.

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