Near the end of her performance last night in Seattle, the sexually assertive Storm Large sang one of humanity’s age-old queries: “What is the use? Beauty will perish and youth will pass away.” We are all left to decide for ourselves what’s the use of it all, but the beautifully youthful energy the Oregon Symphony generated with their opening number certainly gave this rodent a reason to carry on. I remember with great fondness when the band kicked off their 2010/11 classical season with Narong Prangcharoen’s impressionistic Phenomenon, and getting to hear it yet again was a total blast… especially within the acoustically charged confines of Benaroya Hall. Once more, the Mekong River marveled and the fireballs fizzled with mysterious intensity, thanks in large part to Concertmaster Kwak and her magical army of string players. Bravo!
Intermission was followed by Franz Schubert’s Symphony #8 – a bittersweet pair of movements brought to life gorgeously by P-Town’s orchestra, spearheaded by Chief Oboist Marty Hebert who seared miraclulous melodies directly into my soul. Maestro Carlos didn’t so much finish the famously unfinished symphonic wonder, but chose to submit a wonderfully colorful epilogue instead: Maurice Ravel’s La Valse (which followed Schubert’s two movements without pause for applause – a favorite artistic trick firmly lodged up Coach K.’s sleeve!) With downright Mahlerian creepiness, the work felt like a final late-night waltz around the dance floor with Death, who stubbornly insisted on taking the lead despite any futile attempts at resistance. Big beavertail salutes to the always spot-on percussion section, with extra-special props to Mike and his seductively subdued cymbals. Hearing Ravel is a revelation, and when it’s played live by our hometown band at the top of their game? Dear. God. I urge you gentle reader, for the love of all that is holy, catch this concert tonight or tomorrow at the Schnitz!