Ah, yes. The long road through
The Houston Symphony's management may have survived paying overtime to its musicians by a whisker, but I sure felt the audience deserved some overtime compensation after the long slog through Thursday's Spanish-themed program in Jones Hall.
Or…not so much with the unhurried Spanish-ness. Fine. Surely the audience should be compensated for getting extra music to hear for the same price.
(Also: Fuck you Houston Symphony, for not paying your musicians for overtime.)
Somehow, an idea for a light, cheery season-ending program turned into a methodical no-stone-unturned traipse through a formula.
A traipse…through a formula?
It didn't help that guitarist Eliot Fisk was allowed to append his pre-intermission performance of Joaquin Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez with two encores and blowsy gabbing. By the time the performance reached 10 p.m. there was still had a full work to go.
Read that again. …[T]here was still had a full work to go. The…what? Grammar…melting…
The first culprit was the full orchestral version of Manuel de Falla's ballet El Amor Brujo (Love, The Magician). Like many ballet scores, it has strong and weak moments.
As opposed to most music, or works of art, or anything, which do not have strong and weak moments.
As an opener it set a drowsy pace despite music director Hans Graf's sharply crafted and lovingly conducted performance (the essential character of his and the orchestra's work all evening). It was also difficult to hear the soloist, mezzo-soprano Katherine Ciesidecornski in the Grand Tier. She sang with style but not carrying power.
That seems fair…
Two sides of Spanish orchestral/solo music followed.
Concierto de Aranjuez clearly placed the guitar at the center with the orchestra skirting around the instrument and helping to deliver the timeless yet ever popular melody of the second movement. Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain used the piano as decor, always adding ambience even when it clearly had the lead.
Are…are the “two sides” using the…guitar at the center…and the piano…as décor? Huh. Clearly, two well-known sides of Spanish orchestral/solo music.
Fisk was in take-charge mood and performed forcefully yet gracefully.
Take-charge mood? Definite article?
Shai Wosner, the pianist in Nights in the Gardens of Spain, was a little too dutiful. Decoration that needed the flexibility of chant was too metrical.
“Too dutiful to the score” is what I think is intended. Which is fine, unless you think musicians should be dutiful to the score. I’ll let our composer-readers chime in on that.
Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol was an abrupt change-of-pace as the ending work.
Change of pace, I think, should only be hyphenated when used as a compound adjective, and not when used as the noun, as in this sentence. But whatever.
It may have looked nice on paper, but it was out of place.
The piece looked nice on paper? Or the program, with a Russian finale to a Spanish concert?
The brazenly Russian music, which essentially was a miniature version of the composer's Scheherezade with plenty of percussion, didn't relate to much of anything that preceded it.
Why might it have looked nice on paper? Also: "brazenly Russian"? That seems odd, because the composer's name was Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
The performance of Capriccio Espagnol did earn lots of bravos and applause. They made me wonder, as I headed to the exit, whether the performance would sneak under the wire of contractual obligations. I think it did.
I really don’t know what this means. The “bravos and applause” made Mr. Ward wonder if the performance snuck under the “wire of contractual obligations”?
At least he thinks it did? What?
To conclude: the long road through Spain was too long, which traipsed through a formula, and ended in Russia, which looked nice on paper, but eventually snuck under the wire of contractual obligations, therefore the audience should have been paid overtime, but not the musicians.
Did I get that right?