October 7, 2007 at 8:55am
The Northwest Sinfonietta is so sexy.
And IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m not just saying that because I harbor a secret crush on Director/Conductor Christophe Chagnard because he has something about him that reminds me of my brother in law, for whom IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘ve also harbored a secret crush Ă˘â‚¬" no, the Northwest Sinfonietta is sexy because the material they present represents the emotional flows, waves, and peaks that carry listeners to a sensory place that transcends most other experiences.
ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s the kind of stuff that hat compels toes to tap while mouths grin broadly, that pops goose bumps out of warm skin, that raises hairs on the napes of necks; itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s stuff that squeezes tears out of dry eyes for inexplicable reasons.
Last night the Sinfonietta gifted its audience with its first program of the 2007-2008 season, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Beethoven Revealed Part One.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
By accounts overheard in the lobby at intermission, the house was impressively full though several empty seats might have attested to the difficulties some would-be attendees might have had getting through gas-explosion traffic.
The first piece, RossiniĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s LĂ˘â‚¬â„˘Italiana in Algeri: Overture, previewed the strengths of the orchestra, with a most impressive use of piano Ă˘â‚¬" and not the keyed instrument weĂ˘â‚¬â„˘d be seeing later. Effective, beautifully-toned quiet notes built to the multiple crescendos the piece is known for, with piccolo and oboe bringing a bright, light hearted quality to the work.
The eveningĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s second work, MozartĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Piano Concerto No.11 in F Major, K.413, featured Byron Schenkman on piano; it was interesting for me to note the instrumentalist began as harpsichordist and fortepianist, because the use of pedals on the grand piano he played for the evening was a marked contrast to the starched and formal tones of the older instruments. Accustomed to hearing the more traditional playing of Mozart, I was at first taken aback by the notes flowing together. Early in the Allegro, I thought I caught a few missed notes, but like a figure skater missing the first quadruple jump and going on to win the gold medal, Schenkman hung on impressively and gave a great performance.
For me, the sensation of the piece wasnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t unlike my surfing experience in Maui, starting off with a bit of unfamiliarity but settling into a sublimely rolling, pleasurable experience.
After intermission, we settled in to hear BeethovenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, op. 60.
Like about everybody else in the world, IĂ˘â‚¬â„˘m familiar with BeethovenĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s Fifth Symphony death theme, da da da DUMMM Ă˘â‚¬" but I have to admit a certain ignorance about many of his other works. So I was highly appreciative of ChagnardĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s brief explanation about the piece, Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“one of the least performed.Ă˘â‚¬Âť Being eclipsed by Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“two giants, Eroica and the Fifth,Ă˘â‚¬Âť the symphony actually throws out a sort of a classical music inside joke in its first four notes, previewing the first four notes of the Fifth, only in a highly technical reverse (minor and major third intervals are reversed).
Without ChagnardĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s observation, I certainly would not have caught that.
What I did catch was a feeling of exquisite tension created with the music; while the Mozart and Rossini were lovely, taking me to rollicking and rolling places, Beethoven challenged me with fluttering notes, sustained notes, alternating sections playing, pizzicato punctuations, all interspersed in unexpected ways.
Glancing around me from my perch on high, I realized I wasnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t the only one being affected: I saw surreptitious eye-wiping, subtle body movements in response the themes, and smiles of enjoyment. The Sinfonietta, as well, seemed swept away by enjoyment, demonstrating an impressive use of restraint which then developed into a mutual build-up that resulted in a finish that combined tumult and pleasure.
Sexy, so sexy.
Most obvious, I saw Ă˘â‚¬"and participated inĂ˘â‚¬"the standing ovation. The best part of this was the balloons thrown on stage in appreciation by members of the Association of Late Deafened Adult Association. They were listening to the music of the late-deafened composer through the use of brightly colored balloons that transmitted vibrations of the music; I spoke with one woman from the group who had only recently received cochlear implants after 25 years of deafness. Her eyes welled and her smile was broad as she tried to express the pleasure she felt. Her husband suggested they would return to the whole Beethoven series, suggesting he wouldnĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t be able to keep her away.
Tension, release, balloons, euphoria.
Such a great, sexy night. Ă˘â‚¬" Jessica Corey-Butler
Off duty rules.
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