the finnish line

last night’s symphony concert began with hushed romantic whisperings and ended with a vigorous decree.  we heard wagner depart from his usual larger-than-life-hero-conquers-all compositional style, and experienced instead, an incredibly tender expression of love for family that was so private, i felt like a blushing voyeur at times (the real-life backstory of the “siegfried idyll” reads like a nora ephron script – the unsuspecting wife roused from her birthday slumbers by the surprise sound of 13 musicians outside the bedroom playing her husband’s musical gift – oh, weep!)  in a bold move, guest conductor pietari inkinen took the bombastic energy atypically absent from the wagner, and rather astonishingly infused it throughout the sibelius symphony #2.  this is an incredible piece of music, adored by countless fans around the world, and i have grown to love it more and more with every listen at home.  i was excited to finally hear it in person, not expecting to be blown away by the force of lively tempos and conquering brass; what i had come to know as a meditative and sprawling symphony became an in-your-face-power-to-be-reckoned-with-we-have-landed-on-your-shore reckless declaration that threatened to come off the rails.  ultimately, every pluck of the bass and cello strings (and there were many) seemed to ground the music and tap at the soul, making it an unforgettable finnish finale.

concluding the first half of the program, violinist karen gomyo took to the stage for prokofiev’s violin concerto #1.  displaying emotive virtuosity, lyricism, and forward-thinking instrumentation, the concerto brought to mind the image of a slightly drunk mozart at a klezmer hoedown.  so sweet!

the symphony’s two guests were born in the 1980’s, and while both gomyo and inkinen threw down the predictable energy of youth, they also brought to the schnitzer a certain cerebral quality to their explorations.  combine this with the 20th century gems of sibelius and prokofiev on the menu, and it all came together for a postmodern night of some really beautiful noise.

oh, and for those keeping score, apologies to chee-yun… gomyo totally won the best dressed competition (at least on monday night).

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