Saturday, November 6, 2010

What have I been doing?

Just about everything.  I removed the last, and heaviest, window a/c unit and then put up the storm windows.  Some of them are over six feet tall and require a ladder to get up to where they fasten at the top so it is sweaty palms work.  I've mowed the lawn and gathered all the fallen leaves--only to have the lawn covered the next morning!  It's that time of year and the huge cottonwood in front of my house drops a LOT of leaves.  Don't misunderstand, I love this tree, but it is a lot of work.

I have been working at the warp for the grill cloth, too, of course.  I am currently threading, and threading, and threading.  It is a simple point threading on eleven shafts alternating gold with black.  And I really do like threading it's just that one thing after another seems to interrupt progress and getting back into the groove takes a bit more time than it should.  Sigh.

Tonight I took off, though, and went to the Utah Symphony concert. Wowzer!  First I went to the pre-concert talk which featured Eric Owens, bass extraordinaire.  His speaking voice was like dark chocolate covered caramel, rich and deep and wonderful.  He could read the telephone book aloud and I would hang on every syllable.  I was actually sorry when it was time to stop so the concert could begin.

There was only one piece on the program, something I had never heard before: Berlioz's Romeo et Juliette, Dramatic Symphony.  It isn't an opera or an oratorio or cantata, but it has three choruses, and three soloists: mezzo soprano, tenor and bass.  Our mezzo  (excellent) was Tamara Mumfod, our tenor (who had very little to sing but sang well) James Slayden and the bass was Eric Owens. 

Three choruses, you ask?  Yes, one is very big and sings mostly toward the end, one is a small chorus that sings early and late and the third is one that sings off stage to reperesent revelers at a party at the Capulets' home.  The only singer who is actually a character from the play is Friar Laurence, sung nobly and well by Owens.  The mezzo and tenor provide commentary about what it happening.  It is all sung in French (with super titles in English) and to my ear the French has absolutely the perfect sound for the music.

The orchestral parts (most of the piece) were luscious and rich and wonderful.  I learned that it was believed that dreams and falling in love were the gifts of Queen Mab, queen of the fairies, because Romeo is teased by his friends about his lovesickness and told he has been hanging out with Queen Mab.  There is a section of orchestral music devoted to Queen Mab which is light, delicate, and almost twinkling.  It is a credit to the orchestra that the same musicians who could play that could also create a very full-bodied powerful sound only a little later in the piece.  It was all so well done!

There is nothing subtle about Berlioz, but sometimes that is just right.  I wish that Harold in Italy would show up on the program one of these days.  It requires a viola soloist (the voice of the heroic Harold) and I'd like that.  A lot....

Now to bed so I can be clear-headed to thread and thread and thread!

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