Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cleveland Orchestra: Pink Martini (Celebrity Series)

It nearly goes without saying that I've never heard of, let alone witnessed, a conga line at a Cleveland Orchestra performance; nor have I heard an usher utter the phrase "we have a lot of groupies in the hall". Such was the case at tonight's sold-out performance of the Cleveland Orchestra with Pink Martini. The published program for the generally fun evening follows this post, and for context, I had zero foreknowledge of what Pink Martini is prior to the concert.

Fully conscious of the irony in the following statement, given that my living comes from the audio visual world, I have fundamental problems with the use of electronic sound reinforcement in orchestral performances; not only does it distort the sound but it significantly hampers ones ability to choose what they wish to hear (To steal a line from Academics, for me the Orchestral/live classical experience is an opportunity to learn how to listen, not what to listen)--my dissertation on the subject could be a post on its own.

I start on that point because Ravel's Bolero was irritatingly over-reinforced, and started the concert out on the wrong foot. As much as I wanted to hear the strings, thanks to the amplification all I could hear was the piano and percussive beat. I could see the violinists' and cellists' arms moving, yet I could not hear them.

However that issue was not as severe in the subsequent songs in the first half, and was nearly completely mitigated in the second half. I didn't particularly care for the first half, however And Then You're Gone/But Now I'm Back, both based on Schubert's Fantasy in F-minor for four hands, were enjoyable.

The second half was thoroughly enjoyable; I think my favorite from the concert was Hey Eugene but Splendor in the Grass was a very close runner up and something about the violins was nearly hypnotizing for both.

All-in-all it was a fun evening with a packed house and good music. The concert certainly demonstrated both Pink Martini and the Cleveland Orchestra's versatility moving seamlessly from classically-influenced works with modern flare to Latin, and the indescribable in between. The Conga Line was a sight to behold and I'm sure that pictures will show up on Flickr in the not-too-distant future.

(Anyone know what it would take to get the [an] Orchestra to attempt a full-scale performance in the style of Vitamin String Quartet? I have to imagine it would be an otherworldly experience)


The published program (note: there were numerous, sometimes unannounced variations, and one encore. I do not have an accurate set list)
Ravel: Bolero
Forbes & Lauderdale: Let's Never Stop Falling in Love
Forbes & Lauderdale: Sympathique
Traditional: Uskudar
Unknown: Kikuchiyo to moshimasu
Taylor & Lauderdale: The Flying Squirrel
Catalani: "Ebben?...ne andro lontana" from La Wally
Forbes, Marashain, & Lauderdale: And Then You're Gone
Marashain & Lauderdale: But Now I'm back
Lecuona: Malaguena
James: Concerto for Trumpet
Fisher & Roberts: Amado mio
Lauderdale & Marashian: Splendor in the Grass
Clemente & Audiello: Ninna Nanna
Jiminez: Donde estas, Yolanda
Forbes & Lauderdale: Autrefois
Youmans, Eliscu, & Kahn: Carioca
Forbes: Hey Eugene
Unknown: U plavu zoru
Tozain & Lauderdale: Veronique
Forbes & Forbes: Dosvedanya mio bombino

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