Wednesday, November 3, 2010

CIM Orchestra: Debussy/Barber/Sibelius

Debussy: Prelude a "L'apres-midi d'un faune" (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun)
Barber: Piano Concerto, Op. 38 (1962)*
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43
Carl Topilow, conductor
*- Jeanette Aufiero, piano

I wasn't sure about attending this concert -- A project at work is driving me crazy, yesterday was a long day, and tomorrow is going to be a busy and potentially long day.

Had the program been different, I'm not sure I would have, to tell the truth, but I noticed the Sibelius symphony and I was immediately interested: I had first heard (and truly, heard of) Sibelius at a CityMusic Cleveland concert back in April of this year...and I loved it. I don't think I've seen his works programmed locally since then and I didn't want to miss the opportunity.

I was quite happy: While I'm at a loss to describe what I particularly loved about it (In Broad Terms: Lush melodies and soaring strings along with bass that traveled through the floor, to the back of the hall, through my legs and into my body) I was awestruck from the first notes. Though the tempo seemed to wander a bit, the first and second movements rate as some of the most beautiful music I've heard in recent memory. The third movement left me a little lost, but the fourth movement finale ended things impressively.

Preceding that, Barber's Piano Concerto was an interesting mix of emotions -- the first movement was a, aggressive, I guess, for my tastes--it conjured the image of a composer tearing his or her hair out (perhaps ringing a little too true to my feelings in the office not long before), while the second movement stood in stark contrast with a much more somber feel, while the third movement seemed even more explosive than the first.

Opening the concert was Debussy's Prelude a "L'apres-midi d'un faune" -- catching my attention here was the syntatic difference in the program: The French version read as if it is a prelude for a work titled The Afternoon of A Faun, while the English version -- and the styling I've seen previously reads as if the title of the work is Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. So of course I had to Google it: It is a complete work Debussy based on a poem (L'apres-midi d'un faune). I've heard this work before, but this performance was the one where I could most clearly visualize a faun enjoying a playful afternoon.


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