Tuesday, August 23, 2005


If you're expecting or hoping to see me in Seattle for the Ring, alas, work pressures caught up and I am in Oakland working working working.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Dress Codes: Free the Men of Music@Menlo!

There's been plenty of discussion in the blogosphere about the sometimes-stulifying atmosphere of classical concerts. I myself am on the fence about this; I get a special thrill from formality and love the infrequent occasions for which I put on a gown. But there's a lot to be said for comfort and a lot to be said for informality.

The audience for Music@Menlo is varied in age and personal style; I saw blue jeans and suits and everything in between at the concerts I've been to.

The women performers get to wear whatever more-or-less formal wear they'd like. Last night, violinist Jorja Fleezanis wore blue pants and a very beautiful flowing top in shades of blue, purple, red, turqoise, and other colors. (I should have asked her where I could get one like it!) Violist Cynthia Phelps was in a floor-length lavender gown with spaghetti straps. Pianist Wu Han wore black pants and some kind of black top with a spectacular red and black number on top of it, and red high heels of the kind that are nice if you can handle them. They'd break my ankles in a second, but whatever! They looked great on her, and, yes, she could pedal JUST FINE in them.

Given this, I feel sorry for the male performers, who are mostly stuck in white tuxes, white shirts, white bow ties, and black dress pants. (Jeffrey Kahane wore black pants and a black button-down shirt for last week's variations marathon.)


Free the men of Music@Menlo! Let them wear whatever they'd like!

Music@Menlo's Steinway

To the Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms program at Music@Menlo last night (see my SFCV review on Tuesday), and I must comment on the piano -

I wish I'd asked the piano technician about it last night while he tuned it during intermission. This piano is a beauty, producing a gorgeous sound. The sound throughout the piano's range is even and clear and warm, never harsh or clangorous. The bass is present and strong but never thuddy or muddy or obscuring the rest. The upper register is sweet and projects well, never glassy or thin or unpleasant.

It sounded pretty different when played by Kalish, Han, and Kahane, so it's very responsive to different styles. Kahane especially got some incredibly beautiful sound qua sound out of it; one of the variations last week just melted, it was so, so beautiful. And in the Brahms last night, Han got an enormous sound of it without its ever sounding bangy.

Obviously some of this is the pianists' own skill, but wow.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Some blog postings are in the works, but delayed by the fact that for the rest of the month I'm in system release heck, if not hell. I keep looking at my to-do list and alternately thinking "It's all under control" and "How on earth will I get this all done?" A complicating factor is my ticket to cycle 3 of the Seattle Ring. The cast is mostly not new to me and I saw the production - well, most of it - in 2001, but I am eager to hear conductor Robert Spano's take on the work. I may be taking a laptop to Seattle with me.

What I hope to blog about: the insane concert given by Jeffrey Kahane this past weekend at the Music@Menlo chamber music festival, consisting of a lecture, the Goldberg Variations, the Diabelli Variations, and a Q&A session. Oh, yeah, there was a 75-minute lunch break between variation sets, but the whole thing took from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. anyway. And also the three operas SFO performed this summer under the rubric "The Gamble of Love."

(Why did I only see "most" of the 2001 Seattle Ring? Because my mother, who attended with me, fell and broke her wrist about three hours before the Goetterdaemmerung curtain, and so I spent most of that evening in the emergency room with her. Damn opera is so long I made it to the opera house for Act III anyway. :-)