thrillin’ and chillin’ – part II

lower balcony seat: $32.  vintage 1960’s english blue mod suit from ray’s ragtime: $50.  matching clip-on bow tie from avalon: $12.  unleaded gasoline for little red metro to schnitzer and back: 73¢.  finally getting to hear Ludwig von Beethoven’s sublime pastoral symphony #6 performed live by your favorite portland band and favourite british guest conductor?  priceless.

awakening of cheerful feelings upon arrival in the country: that’s what a 30-ish Ludwig wrote in his sheet music to describe the opening chapter of his symphonic journey through the bavarian countryside.  i can’t help but wonder if one of the band’s librarians penciled in (on horseback) as an addendum [my money’s on julie], ‘cuz with michael francis’ bouncy physicality and wide stance on the podium, the last-minute maestro appeared to lead the band from atop an invisible thoroughbred.  whatever the tempo, it’s some of the most beautiful music written ever written by a human being.  period.

scene at the brook: let’s dismount at this stream and snack on trail mix, shall we?  alicia “we belong to the nightengale” paulsen, marty “the wailin’ quail” hebert, and yoshinori “cuckoo for clarinets” nakao took flight as they led their woodwind peeps, anchoring the band throughout the entire symphony.

happy gathering of country folk: it’s a good thing those steins have lids on ‘em, otherwise that doppel bock would be all over your lederhosen.  waltz me once again ‘round that dance floor, won’t you?  oh shit, i felt a raindrop – mary, grab the blanket and get under the tarp quick… the timpani are coming!

thunderstorm: now, for all you native pacific northwesterners out there, this movement must seem a bit exaggerated to you.  growing up in ohio, the beaver assures you that the sudden black clouds, the flashes of lightning, the crackling echoes of thunder, the sideways sheets of rain, the fantastic smell of ozone… all that really does happen on a late july afternoon.

shepherds’ song; cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm: it boggles my mind that LvB composed his fifth and sixth symphonies simultaneously, even premiering both of ‘em the same night in vienna.  instead of father fate knocking down your door, the polar opposite pastoral imagines mother nature gently tugging at the sleeve of your merino wool pullover.  it’s probably the most un-Beethovian music Beethoven ever wrote.  instead of extolling human triumph or plumbing the depths of personal melancholy, ol’ #6 meanders over rolling hills, sits complacently with repetition, and offers humble gratitude for the little things in this temporary life.  for me, it’s a reminder to all us techno-foodie-city-slickers that the hottest 3-D blockbuster, the latest local microbrewery, and the ubiquitous glow of the most up-to-the-minute electronic gadgetry might be super cool, but it offers no lasting warmth.


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