The Shostakovich’s Fifth

Yesterday, I took mom to the CSO – one of my subscription series was Sunday matinee so that I could take her. And after last week’s success with taking the L to the Atr Institute, she was excited to return to resume more cultural activities.

But that’s not about mom; it’s about the program. It was an all-Russian program, and I believe the hit of it was intended to be the “Dairy of a Madman” by Lera Auerbach. I liked the piece; however, the Shostakovich Fith Symphony was the one that impressed me the most.

Interestingly, I vividly remember when I hear it for the first time. It was in Leningrad State Philarmonic. I was fourteen or fifteen, and I even remember where approximately mom and I sat. I also remember that it was performed after the intermission and that I understood nothing about it! I remember thinking – what all these random parts could mean together?! 

After that first time, I listened to this symphony at different concerts at least three times, but it was yesterday that I felt I heard it for the first time. At first sounds, I thought: is it really the same piece?! I can’t remember it sounding like that! 

And then I listened as if for the first time, and I could not believe what I was hearing. On my way back, I even looked it up to check what critics were saying and how this symphony is usually interpreted. Because the question I had was – how it was ever allowed to be performed in the Soviet Union?! 

Yes, Shostakovich is a hooligan in most of his works (and that’s what I love about his music). But how could anybody ever believe that this piece was “glorifying the Soviet achievements?! This bitter irony, these twists of the “heroic” themes, such a distinct picture of violence which follows “the hero” – how could it be possible that nobody noticed it?! Or is it that those who noticed were silent? When I asked Boris just this: how this piece was allowed to be performed in the Soviet Union, Boris told me that once he was present at the musical lecture at the Composers’ association, and the lecturer told them that “there is a lot of mystery in this piece.” Well… ๐Ÿ™‚

One More CSO Concert

Yesterday’s concert was even better than last week’s. I know I am saying it for the third time in a row, but that’s true! 

I learned about this concert almost at the last minute and hurried to get tickets (my neighbor joined me). We still got very decent seats and had a great experience. 

Here is what the CSO website says about this concert:

Dancers from Chicago’s world-renowned Joffrey Ballet invigorate the Symphony Center stage with two newly commissioned choreographies set to Siegfried Idyll, Wagner’s glowing birthday gift to his wife, and Rameau’s vivid ballet, composed for a royal wedding at the Palace of Versailles. Ravel evokes Baroque dance in Le tombeau de Couperin, with each movement becoming a touching tribute to friends who died in World War I. The program opens with the beguiling elegance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 34. 

How could you describe a dance? Especially Joffrey Ballet! I sat all the time, holding my breath with my eyes wide open. I can’t say which one I liked better – both are gems. Probably, Rameau was more unexpected.

Unfortunately, there are no official videos, at least could not find them.

Actually, I take it back – I found one in the news, click here.

The First Work Week After

Since I barely blogged this week, it should be obvious that the first week after the conference was very intense. There are several projects which I both need and want to do, and each of them could easily take all the work time I have. I would be happy to have sixteen extra hours a day, because I really-really want to do it all.

On top of that: the program committee of PG Day Chicago started regular meetings, and I feel terrible that it’s not that much I can do at the moment. November PUG is less than two weeks away. Mom is having multiple health issues, mostly related to arthritis. When she feels better, she does not want any help, and when she feels worse, she does not ask, which does not help me to address the situation.

Also, I am still seeing too many shows (and I know it’s too many, but I can’t resist the post-pandemic luxury of ‘all is open.” Last night, I was at CSO with my neighbor, and we listened to the Bartok Second violin concerto with Christian Tetzlaff, and it was so amazing, I still can’t get over it! There are lots of his videos online, and if you watch just one, you’ll see what I am talking about!

So – today is Friday, and I want to do so many things during the weekend, that I am sure at least 30% of them will be not done!

CSO Last Night

The concert was absolutely amazing. But let me tell you first, what was before the concert:). The CSO resumed the Classic Encounter series – interactive multimedia presentations by Chicagoโ€™s radio DJ, WXRTโ€™s Terri Hemmer. Each time, it is a meeting with one of the CSO musicians who participate in the concert on that night, so they talk both about the music and the instrument, and it is incredibly interesting. Oh, and also, there is wine and finger food, and sweets.

Yesterday, the guest was CSO trumpet John Hagstrom, and he was so cool, and witty, and everything, and the experience was truly amazing, and it definitely helped to feel more connected with the piece!

And the conductor…. I believe it was the first time that I heard ChristianThielemann conducting – I very unique, so passionate, and the orchestra is visibly enojing his leadership. John Hagstrom mentioned that he might be a candidate for replacing maestro Muti who’s last season with CSO we are currently celebrating. We’ll see…

Ohm and Thielemann was conducting Bruckner 8th symphony without the score – can you imagine it?!

And the final note – I went with my neighbor, we didn’t do anything together for a while, and now she is a subscriber, too! I am glad we can do things together.

Cultural Activities Continue

love the CSO at the Movies series, and yesterday, they were performing Milos Forman’s Amadeus. I have seen this movie multiple times and know it very well, maybe not by heart, but very close to that. Still, it felt as if I watched it for the first time. Perhaps, that’s because my friends who went with me didn’t see it before, and I got this fresh vibe from them. Perhaps, I was just happy to see my friends. Whatever it was, I felt very positive, elevated, and not tired, although the concert ended at 10-40 PM.

For the third time this week, I opted to call Uber, and this time, the ride price was utterly insane. I thought for a moment (after all, the Red Line is right there!), but then I knew that I might wait for a train for a good twenty minutes at this time of the day. I decided the additional 35 minutes of sleep was worth 35 bucks :).

A couple of days ago, I received an email from Greenleaf Art Center which said “we would love you to join us.” Since it was signed by the Ukrainian artist from whom I bought a print during the spring fundraiser, I thought that it would be his event. I was not sure whether I can spend more time on anything except for working on my presentation, but at the very last minute, I decided to go.

Turned out, it was an Art fair, and all studious were open, and I didn’t budget enough time to see even a quarter of the artworks…But I stopped at Khmara’s studio, and we talked a lot – about our love for Chicago, about the war, and about “no piece, but only victory.” So after all, I am so glad I went!

(And do I have to say, that I left this Art fair with another two silver rings?!)

CSO

I opened the CSO season later than I should have because I was traveling most of September and had to exchange the ticket. But today, I listened to Ricardo Muti and Efim Brofman, which was great.

Overall, today was a day from the past. Finally, I had to admit that it’s not like I was choosing the wrong trains, but Metra indeed became almost as crowded as pre-pandemic, and I am glad that during rush hour, trains depart every fifteen minutes. The streets started to look busy, and the Symphony center was full. And I liked that I could stay in the office until it was time to go to the concert. Strangely, it felt like a moment to relax ๐Ÿ™‚

Salonen and Kuusisto

Continuing on the topic of cultural activities. Last week, when Boris was in Chicago, we went to two CSO concerts, both with Esa Pekka Salonen conducting. I like him a lot and didn’t mind at all that after a couple of ticket exchanges I ended up having two pairs of tickets to two concerts just a day apart.

It was a very exhausting week in terms of work, and I was not sure whether it would be a good idea to make myself sleep-deprived for two days, but both concerts were exceptionally good!. One piece which stood out was Dessner’s violin concerto performed by Pekka Kuususto. On my way home from the concert, I found a recording of this very piece performed by Kuusisto with a different orchestra.’

If you watch it, I guarantee you would feel what I felt!

Tonight

There was a program change for today’s CSO concert because maestro Muti tested positive and had to quarantine for a week. I didn’t want to return my ticket, but at the same time, I still had a lot to do to get ready for tomorrow’s PUG and needed to have normal sleep. And at the same time, I loved the updated program – several of Mozart’s piano concertos. I was going back and forth, and I decided to go to the first half of the concert at the very last moment.
I had a lot of positive emotions. I love it when a conductor is contacting from the piano, as Mozart himself did, and I love this full of light music, so bright and beautiful, a real celebration of life.
Also, I loved it when I saw that the Ukrainian flag was now permanently displayed on the right side of the stage, and the musicians continued displaying the ribbons in Ukrainian colors.

And I loved that the weather was finally warm, and I felt like Chicago is back.

I decided to take a Brown Line for the half of the way home to look at Chicago from the elevated level. I passed a young man on the planform talking to another waiting passenger: every morning I look outside and see the lake, and I can’t believe I live here! OMG! How much I can relate!!!

CSO Concert

Yesterday, I was at the CSO concert. Nobody wanted to go with me, so I returned one of the two tickets and went by myself. I almost forgot that I almost always went to concerts solo before the pandemic. 

I had a physical therapy appointment at 4 PM, and it didn’t make sense to go back home and go to the concert an hour later. At least, I thought it didn’t make sense. I went straight to the Loop and found an open Starbucks on Michigan Avenue, and then I sat there with my coffee and my wrap and my laptop, facing the street and watching the people.

I realized that 1) I didn’t do anything like that for a long time 2) I missed the feeling of being all by myself in the city. 

When I worked in the office and would go to a concert after work, I always had that time between work and the concert, and I would sit at Starbucks or some other cafe, sipping coffee and people-watching. There are not that many places these days where you can sit like this after 5 PM, and it was great to feel that something is returning. 

The concert had Boris’ favorites. I still remember how he gave me the recordings of Mahler and Bruckner to listen.ย 

The mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca was amazing! The most unusual voice I had ever heardโ€”perfection from the first to the last note.

And one more thing – the whole orchestra wore little yellow and blue ribbons on their chests ๐Ÿ™‚

The Music And The War

On Sunday, I was at the CSO concert. Ricardo Muti was conducting the Beethoven 9th symphony. It was an outstanding performance. Also, it turned out that it was the last concert for Duain Wolfe, the Chorus Director, who is retiring after 28 years with CSO. After the concern, there was a very emotional ceremony presenting him the highest CSO award.

Knowing maestro Muti, I expected him to say something about the situation in the outer world, but this didn’t happen, and I thought that he just didn’t want to interfere with the celebration of Duain Wolfe. But it turned out that I was wrong – he talked before the Thursday concert!

Official pictures: