Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chicago housekeeping

Two pieces of news that are probably old hat to many, but bear repeating:

1) Institution Marc Geelhoed (by internets standards, mind you--he's our age) is going on to what sounds like a very sweet new job at the CSO's record label. His Deceptively Simple blog, (which he keeps abbreviating as DecSimp, tho I think that sounds like the diminutive the tabloids would make up for a hypothetical goth-influenced youngest Simpson sibling who named herself Decaysia, i.e. Jessica to DecSimp: Don't steal my boyfriend!) will thankfully stay around, but will exchange the torturous reports of all the cool things music critics get to go to but you don't for other interesting content. Cheers, Marc!

2) Andrew Patner, reviewer about town and major contributor to WFMT's awesomeness through his show Critical Thinking, started a blog last month, which both consolidates his commentary from various sources and includes fresh stuff. Patner is the real deal where great newspaper music criticism is concerned...just check his Sun-Times review of the recent Ainadanamar (sp?) concert here for a taste.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Piano digression

For the record, I got to see Radu Lupu play live for the first time today here at Orchestra Hall. I liberated this disc from my mother at some point before going off to college and I think it is the recording from which a good deal of my subsequent love of Brahms flows. There was no Brahms on the program today however: Lupu played the Schubert Sonata D. 850 (which I don't know well) and Book 1 of Debussy's preludes. There's a reason why this is less often played Schubert, but Lupu brought out many of its joys.

But the Debussy--well that was on another level altogether. Synesthetes in the audience would have been driven to seizures with the wondrous range of colors he was able to draw out of the Preludes. If one could say of the current greats that it is Pollini who is able to make plain the true structure of a piece, or Argerich who finds its true magic, when we speak of the the authentic color in a work we must speak of Lupu. I don't pretend to know a whit about how pianists go about creating such things, but it was a marvel.

And here's a swell example for your listening pleasure: the Intermezzo in B Minor from that Brahms disc.

P.S. I saw Mitsuko Uchida in the lobby. It was pretty kewl.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fancy that

PS, did anyone notice how good last night's Carmen was? Carmen is something of a primordial opera for me (I was in the children's chorus circa age 10 and subsequently became obsessed with my parent's cassette tape set) but it's pretty hard to get stoked about post-adolescence, considering A) the general quality of the casts attached to it and B) it lends itself to phoned-in readings better than anything else in the rep. I mean, it's Carmen. That's what it does.

But last night sounded like wall-to-wall blood and guts gorgeousness. Borodina brings more vocal riches than probably half of the current Carmens in North America put together. Alvarez sounded tremendous, warm and passionate and convincingly pissed off. And then, in the oft forgettable part of whiny little simp who is nonetheless totally right about the whole sordid business, we got Maija Kovalevska's disarming loveliness. I mean, when's the last time you got really excited about a Micaela? The Escamillo didn't make as much of an impression, but no matter. I don't know if this is a Gelb gilding the warhorses thing or what but it was awfully nice.