Winter Has Gone
Our days are fraught with toil
and age does naught but gain
and winter’s come to wane
she leaves us barren soil
We etch the years in stone
and plow the frosted dun
and ev’ry rising sun
strips sinew to the bone
But arching to its height
and swiftly does it slide
and softly gone aside
solstice has favoured night
Thus once again it seems
and truly it returns
and sunlight sorely yearns
to spread her long-lost beams
Jean-Claude Casadesus conductor
Francesco Piemontesi piano
BERLIOZ – Marche hongroise from La Damnation de Faust, Op. 24
RAVEL – Piano Concerto in G major
DVOŘÁK – Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 ‘From the New World’
The tried-and-tested cocktail of SSO topped off by a guest conductor seldom fails to disappoint. Friday night’s concert with Casadesus delivered – and dazzled.
The Marche Hongroise foretold the brilliant evening that was to come. The folk tune was woven through the rambuctious rhythms with widely varied dynamics marking the phrases. Apart from the half-second the orchestra took to find its bearings, ensemble was airtight and solos individualistic and impressive.
Ravel Piano Concerto – a piece with which I am hardly acquainted, and which left a delicious impression as interpreted by soloist Francesco Piemontes. After being enchanted by another Italian Pianist, this one was no less mesmerising. Jazz, which tends to lend favour to France and America (and Japan), as interpreted by him, didn’t sound any worse for wear in these sparkling, well phrased hands. Of note was the less-oft-fielded cor anglais, and the very responsive orchestra, who again only had a little hiccup at the awkward-to-assemble beginning.
A charming but un-identifiable (by this author) encore wrapped up his appearance.
Finally, the main course – Dvorak. The most striking thing was the detail, detail, and finally, the individual responsibility which the players took upon themselves to express their own musical ideas. Expressive flute solos (played twice, in the first repeated section, to boot), nonchalant horn calls – only the hurried tempo of the second movement elicited dislike from this author. (Or, in my words, that oboist practiced for years on the Cor Anglais only to be rushed through during the most famous Cor Anglais solo). Large dynamic contrasts, marked (but surprisingly tightly managed) tempo changes, tiny runs and sweeping lines were held to a high standard that the somewhat jerky and comical baton-strokes seemed to belie. The 9th symphony was SSO at its best, and the audience was duly rewarded for their investment of their Friday evening.
A final Hungarian Dance, this time Brahms’, rounded off the exciting evening.
The conductor clasped his hands as though telling children to go to bed, before making his ultimate exeunt left.
The Dark Knight Rises
Basically, I wasn’t expecting an Inception or Memento (which I haven’t watched, to my own chagrin), and generally the movie pleased, in a more or less popcorn manner. Conspiracy theories rapidly sprung up though, from one concerning the American Presidential Elections, to another concerning Catwoman’s choice of family jewels (don’t ask).
Somehow, the thing that stuck out most was the lack of – wait for it – scientific congruency. Sure, suspension of disbelief and whatnot, but the explosive concrete and thermonuclear time-bomb was glaring enough that I personally found them unforgivable. The hollywood healing involved was also a little off the scale.
The fight scenes were visceral, apart from the ridiculous clash between the police and the mob which would never happen in any resemblance in real life. Catwoman was smooth, and probably the most substantial female character between Inception and this film, which still has me wondering if female leads are actually eponymous or just a traditional post to be filled.
All in all, a movie with great pacing and suspenseful scenes, a well played Albert, interesting sociopolitical commentary, a not-so-smart-as-supposed-to-be villian (technically he was, and it was portrayed, but not so much one who was cerebral or brilliant as engineer-precise). The female characters, once again, left me disappointed.