Monday, February 24, 2014

Ice Sculpting Redux ~ February 2014

We found Randy Finch and the Ice Brigade in front of the Grand Rapids Art Museum doing their thing on 2/12/14.
By 2/14, everyone was taking pictures, including us :-)
But after one day above freezing day last week, 
the penguins and polar bears are mourning, "I'm melting!" 
Our visit on 2/24/14
Now we have just 2 or 3 feet of snow left to melt.

Here's the Ice Brigade back in 2011

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Grand Rapids Symphony - 11/22/14

We were disappointed that David Lockington would not be here (because we love him) but were overall quite taken with the guest conductor, Andrew Grams, by the time the concert was over. He walked out with his left arm bent at his waist with his fist clenched, his baton in his right hand. He was animated, dramatic, and altogether fun to watch (stock photo).
A few comments about the music. Brahms wrote only one violin concerto and he wrote it for a friend of his. And apparently (obviously?) he composed it to show off the skills of his friend, violinist Joseph Joachim (on the right).

Technically, it is superb. One can hear glimpses of Brahms in the orchestra but the solo part is all technique, especially in the first movement. (Listen to his symphonies if you want to hear the beauty of Brahms.) And yes, violinist Augustin Hadelich is incredible, as he proved again during his encore, flawlessly performing Paganini's Caprice No. 5, a technical and impressive masterly performance. He has his own amazing back story, coming back from a serious burn at age 15 that threatened his future as a violinist (stock photo). But comparing this concerto to Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D (recently read in a review) doesn't work for me, as the latter is stunningly beautiful and the former is just technical to my ears. It's nothing against Hadelich because I'm pretty sure he can play anything, beautifully and perfectly.

The second work of the night was Bartok's Concerto for Orchestra. It was interesting to hear individual instruments/sections highlighted and it was impressive overall but again, we were not swept away. I'm sure this is sacrilege to fans of the composition, but other than parts of the fourth and fifth movements, it all seemed somewhat randomly constructed.
Some music can bring you to tears just through its sheer beauty, but tonight was not that night. It was technically amazing but it did not touch our souls.