Friday, April 15, 2005

A Music Review, As It Were

Last night, I sang with the Baton Rouge Symphony Chorus (part of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C Minor, Op. 86. It’s hard to imagine that someone so profoundly deaf composed something so beautiful. Every time I hear a piece by Beethoven, I am struck by his genius. Beethoven wrote this particular piece during his employ by Prince Nikolaus II as a tribute to the Prince’s daughter, Maria, for her birthday. It was not a success. As usual, the instrumentalists that made up the orchestra were a temperamental lot and were always late or not showing up for their rehearsals. On top of that, they had a hard time resigning themselves to working for someone who was deaf.

For this reason alone, the piece should not have been a success. However, in true Beethoven style, the piece was written well ahead of its time. The music is dissonant in nature, there are many a capella parts, and there are many key changes throughout the piece. Music in the early 1800’s was not for Beethoven.

Last night, however, the piece was greatly appreciated by our audience, even if the soloists did fall a little flat, and took liberties with the tempo (ah, soloists!). Our Soprano section (of which I am a proud member) took the piece by storm. We floated to every high note and nailed every entrance. The Alto, Tenor and Bass sections were equally impressive. A big pat on the back, guys!

Before our performance, the orchestra played two other pieces. The first is a piece with a long title by Edvard Grieg. Suite for Strings in Olden Style from Holberg’s Time, Op. 40 is the full title. The entire piece, composed in 1884, was to commemorate the bicentennial of the birth of the Norweigian dramatist Ludvig Holberg. The five movements in this piece were nice, but it was the third movement that really caught me and stirred my imagination. Gavotte: Allegretto, Musette: Un poco musso – Gavotte reminded me so much of a dance. Think back to royalty in the late 1700’s; women in beautiful dresses, men in crazy clothes with powdered wigs (we’ve all seen that in movies, right?). Now think of their dances. Where they all line up and couples dance down the tunnel of other dancers. Then they all bow to each other, and it’s all in time to a lovely waltz or rondetto. This is what I saw in my mind when listening to the Un poco musso (a little music, literally).

The part of the performance I enjoyed most was when the orchestra played Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring. This piece always moves me, and last night it had me in tears. Originally written for a 13-piece orchestra for Martha Graham’s performance for an “evening of modern ballet at the Library of Congress”, Appalachian Spring is now most commonly played with a full orchestra.

The song, Simple Gifts, written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brakett, Jr (in 1848) is the common theme in Copland’s piece. It’s a beautiful tune, found in almost any Church songbook (find the words here ). Played by an orchestra, and one with a superb flutist as the BRSO has, it’s a compelling piece, worthy of at least one standing ovation.

(I hope you enjoyed my review of the music! Next time I’ll try a review on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (non-music people will know it as the Ode to Joy)).

On to Anthony news. And I’m done. Really! There’s absolutely nothing interesting to tell you about my precious little man. Well, except that he’s my precious little man! He spent the night last night with Nana and Grandpa so that Mark could come to listen to the concert (dragged him kicking and screaming, really) and so that we wouldn’t have to wake Anthony up to bring him home at 10:30. I stopped by on my way to work this morning, and as soon as Anthony saw me, he waved “Bye Bye” to me! Apparently he was having a blast at Nana and Grandpa’s and was unconcerned that he really hadn’t seen me in a while. I’m terribly hurt.

This evening we will attend our Church fair for a crawfish boil and to let Anthony ride a few kiddie rides. The whole time, you’ll be able to see me cringing in thought of all the germs Anthony will be exposed to on those rides. I’ll be the crazy lady with the gallon jug of Purell!

Oh! I did forget this! (well, almost..thank you, Stacy!)...Anthony will be down to ONE MEDICINE by the end of Sunday!!! On Monday morning, I will only have to serve up his little bitty Prograf pill! Life, truly, is good in our house!

Well, off to bigger and better things (yeah, right!)

Thanks for checking in on us! Love, Laurie, Mark and Anthony

Coming up in Anthony-land:
Saturday: an evening with Maw Maw and Paw Paw while Mommy and Daddy are out to dinner
Sunday: celebrating Uncle Matt’s birthday!
Monday and beyond: stay tuned!

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