Ellen (ennienyc) wrote,

Back to the Classics

I have notes on various classical music concerts I've seen and not yet blogged about, but some are so long ago I don't remember much detail. 

There was a chamber music concert with oboe at the 92nd Street Y. Also at 92Y, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson trio (twice), where I was one of the younger people at Thursday noon performances. And 3 Mostly Mozarts (one the annual outing with Dallas BBQ early-bird chicken special first, with M&M). And 2 NY Philharmonics (with season ticket-holder M, where I substituted for the other M). At one point, I had to run out of the second tier box coughing and stayed in the hall until the movement ended.

The conductorless Orpheus played Beethoven's 4th piano concerto with soloist Garrick Ohlsson at Carnegie Hall. Hearing this group made me wonder if a conductor really is necessary, since they do just fine without one. The program wrongly put the intermission too early, so people had to come rushing back from the bathroom. At that point, they should have just declared it intermission.

I saw 2 children's concerts by the Little Orchestra Society at Avery Fisher. The first was "Babes in Toyland" which ended with a marching band playing the toy soldiers - complete with baton twirlers! Why was I not told about this audition? Turns out they were from a Westchester high school. More recently, this group did Stravinsky's "Firebird." Although the conductor provided background and commentary for the puppet presentation, most of the time I couldn't tell what was going on. There were many annoyingly noisy kids (yeah, I know, it was a children's concert). I turned around afterward to see the devil-children behind me, and they were adorable.

My favorite type of classical music is chamber pieces with piano, so I enjoyed hearing the group Concertante do Schumann's piano quartet and quintet at Merkin. The latter is achingly beautiful (especially the second movement), as can be heard in this version with the Juilliard Quartet and Leonard Bernstein on piano (the link will play all 4 movements in a row, and I'm listening to it as I write).

I was lucky enough to see Bernstein play piano live in the '70s, accompanying Christa Ludwig in my favorite choral piece (and I don't usually like classical vocal music), Brahms' "Zigeunerlieder" (gypsy songs). I first heard this piece shortly before that, sung at the Cloisters by the Columbia-Barnard chorus (including Rick E.). I liked it so much I got a record of it, but haven't heard it live lately.

For years, the only opera I had ever seen was "The Girl of the Golden West" with a school group, which was so long ago that it was at the old Madison Square Garden. I just can't get into opera and operatic voices. I tried again recently, seeing "A Quiet Place" by Leonard Bernstein (so this relates to the above), thinking Bernstein wouldn't be quite as operalike. It was OK (what seemed to be an excellent NYC Opera production that created a unique mood) and included "Trouble in Tahiti" but still, it was opera. Just can't take those tremulous voices.

I heard more Bernstein at a concert at Symphony Space, with "Chichester Psalms" and several songs (one notable soloist was the wonderfully named Jubilant Sykes). The hall was packed, and seats were assigned (a first for me in this space). I was in the single row in center balcony, next to the sound board. After the concert was the main event as far as I was concerned - a "West Side Story" sing-along. Ghost singer Marni Nixon introduced the movie (which I hadn't seen since it came out; I saw the show in a revival at Lincoln Center); she said they also recorded Natalie Wood's vocals but had no intention of using them. When the singing started, the people next to me immediately left. I'd blame my singing, but they had been previously discussing whether to stay.

A few days before, I'd attended another '60s movie sing-along, to "Sound of Music." This was held in multiple theaters, and I went to the 42nd St. Empire AMC since I was coming from the Times. It wasn't packed, but not empty either, and we belted our hearts out to the on-screen lyrics (which I rarely needed). Two women in front were dressed as a Nazi and nun, and periodically stood up to conduct. The "Nazi" had a whistle which she blew along with Captain von Trapp, and whenever anyone was about to kiss. What a hoot!

Growing up, we not only saw these movies (and the "Sound of Music" show on Broadway with Mary Martin) but knew the records well, and took the scripts out of the library and staged the shows with our dolls. I think Gorgeous Dolly played Maria in both. I asked my sister, and she wasn't sure (so who would know otherwise if I told you she did?) but did remember that Dolly played the Mother Superior. Dolly (first in the series of rag dolls my grandmother made) is very dilapidated and thus camera-shy, but here's a picture of Gorgeous Dolly.
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