I'd like to tell you a story about a storyteller

His name is Edward Ortiz of the Sacramento Bee. He likes to tell us colorfully misleading stories about storytellers telling storytellers’ stories.

Every good story is born in the telling.

And every bad story is born in the grammaring. What a marvelous beginning! Pray tell. How was this story told?

And if that story is a musical one, like Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica,” then the telling is all the more crucial.

C’mon! I’m on the edge of my seat. Tell me! What was the story? How was Beethoven’s story told?

In this work, sonic wallflowers and shy storytellers need not apply.

Yes. Yes. If the performers don’t adhere to the dynamics and other performance cues, then I’d say they are not good storytellers.

Let’s go. I’m giddy with good-‘Eroica’-storytelling anticipation. Squeee!

Broad strokes and fervor are required.

Oh man, how I want broad strokes and fervor! Did they deliver the broad strokes? And the fervor? C’mon! Did they? Did they?

This notion was in motion during the Sacramento Philharmonic’s bold and crisp performance of “Eroica” in Saturday evening at the Community Center Theatre.

How’d it go? Did they achieve the broad strokes and fervor? They attempted it, right? But how’d they do? Did the bold and the crisp contribute to the fervor? I need to know.

It was an inspired performance in what proved an uneven all-Beethoven concert delivered to a sold-out audience.

Still, short of broad strokes and fervor.

Under the baton of musical director Michael Morgan, this group of musicians never wavered from spinning out the in-your-face dramatic thread that Beethoven created with his “Eroica.”

Geez. I’m so not excited anymore. Beethoven’s story sounds fervent. But the orchestra just kept plugging along, spinning it out. BOR-ing.

Morgan coaxed a tight and bright allegro from the musicians to start things off.

So they just didn’t have any fervor? Could they have been coaxed into having it?

Clarity and speed brought Beethoven’s musical ideas to the fore. The use of both gave a certain elegance to the music.

In lieu of broad strokes and fervor, maybe they should have played the “Eroica” super-fast. Then the piece would have been extra-super-elegant.

The second movement, “Marcia Funebre,” offers a poignant and dense collection of musical details.

Oh, brother. Just what I wanted—another movement from a poorly told Beethoven story. Maybe then they should have played super-special-clearly. Especially when details are keenly felt and dense. Elegance for elegance’s sake. You know?

Each section of the orchestra played with clarity,

Good. Elegant.

making for gripping and dramatic music.

[Emphasis mine]

What? What! Halleluiah! Being clear is now gripping and dramatic? ...sqeee! We’re kinda getting close to fervor! Clear = gripping and dramatic = slight fervor. Oh, boy! Tell me a story about how there was more fervor, Ortiz! I can’t take this lack of fervor any longer. Please! Please! Please! Tell me!

There were no lulls in the sonic drama.

Yes! A broad stroke of fervor! Finally, good storytelling. (raises fists, looks toward God in accomplishment) I just knew they could do it.

This was one of those moments where you were tempted to think that conductor and musician were destined to play together.

I agree, totally. When a conductor can coax the orchestra to play with a broad stroke of fervor, it’s truly preordained. Preordained to tell musical stories well. This story, in particular. Which is about...?

It was one of the orchestra’s strongest performances in recent memory.

Yes. But what was the story about?

In four movements, Morgan and orchestra seemed to have entered an extremely fruitful and dynamic state of musical storytelling.





Sator Arepo said...

The story was about Napoleon's horse. I think. Maybe I just read that somewhere.