05 MARCH 2011 :: IT'S ALWAYS THE ONE YOU LEAST EXPECT
During the week I went to the LSO with a friend of mine. Mahler’s 9th and a cello concerto beforehand.
Mahler's 9th was... fairly good, overall. I thought the first 2 movements were a little fluffy and found myself drifting into thoughts of work and what I need to worry about. It’s never a good sign when you’ve taken yourself to the symphony and sit there worrying about work. But, the 3rd and 4th movements really pulled me back into it, I thought they had a lot more depth and found myself creeping forward in my seat to listen intently. So, good overall.
Interestingly the real highlight was the opening piece. Shostakovich Cello Concerto No 2 - this was... something, I'll give it that.
You'll probably find my description jumps all over the place, it's a fair representation of the music.
Initially I thought it sounded modern, in a 1970's sense of the word. I've just goggled it, and it was written in 1966 so I'm not too far off there. (I love being right!). Then the music conjured up images of a low budget, black and white, European art house film... Something with a sad mime sat alone in a shabby flat.... eating cold soup..... with this music playing in the background.
(OK - it may be fair to say that reading Tom Wolfe's - The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test had an effect on me. I'm "on the bus" and looking at things with a very a far out groove at the moment, no doubt it'll pass)
I was snapped out of my daydream when the cellist started strumming the cello like a guitar, complete with making various chords on the strings! I was sure my eyes deceived me until he did it again.
The mood of the music lightened and became more of a fluffy (there's that word again) Vivaldiesque piece. Interesting but nothing to write home about, I kept thinking Disney soundtrack.
Towards the end it slipped back to it's moody, modernist roots. More strumming of the cello, this time contrasted with a cowbell sound (I kid you not) in what felt like a duelling banjos riff with the cello and cowbell working against each other!?!?
The finale was a snare drum paired with the cowbell to create what sounded like an elementary breakbeat (a form of techno from the 90's - essentially drum beats and high hats sliced up to create an interesting stop/start beat) Like I said, it was certainly something!! I feel like I need to hear it performed again to make up my mind on it. Also, I've checked online and apparently it was a "wood block" not a cowbell. I refuse to let the facts get in the way of my story and I'm sticking with cowbell.
Oh thank goodness! Another day in this suburban nightmare and I’d have needed half a white valium.