Anne-Sophie Mutter

I went to her concert on Sunday – it was a matinee performance, so I took mom with me. It is always hit or miss (I never know whether she will enjoy a performance or start critiquing random things). This time, it was a miss – she said that the music didn’t engage her and then proceeded to criticize the musician’s clothes and other unrelated stuff. But enough about that.

Anne-Sophie Mutter is one of those artists who are so well-known that it feels like they “always were around,” and you might be unsure whether they are still alive. It was almost the case this time: I knew that she was the most famous violinist for the past twenty five years. The program mentioned her “forty seven years of performing.” So when you see her coming to stage in a bright pink strapless ball gown, it feels surreal :).

She is great. The concert lasted for two hours, and she was on stage all the time, and then did three encores!

The second part of the concert was “The Four Seasons,” and it was as great as on this video:

The First Christmas Concert

I got tickets for the “Merry Chicago” concert in the CSO for Nadia and me on December 16. It was a little bit of a stretch because they could not leave until Nadia’s school was over, but it ended up being not a little bit but a lot of a stretch. To be precise, Nadia was dropped off in front of the CSO a minute before the concert. But we were not late, and we had terrific seats in the second row on the aisle.

It’s hard to believe, but Nadia sat through the whole 1 hour 50 min concert completely focused on the music! Even during the intermission, after we walked around for a little while, she insisted on returning to our seats and anticipated the concert’s second part.

And nowadays, the Christmas concert is very different from when my kids were kids – there is no story, no dances, so it is pretty much music all the time – shorter pieces, for sure, but still!

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… 🙂

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 Chicago’s radio DJ, WXRT’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 🙂

Grant Park Music Festival End of Season

The last concert will take place on Saturday, but for me, Wednesday was the last one I attend this season. It was a beautiful event, and as usual, Carlos Kalmar was amazing!

The concert theme was “Fairy tales,” starting with Tchaikovsky’s “The Sleeping Beauty,” and the orchestra and the conductor were projected onto a big screen.

Also, the weather was perfect for the concert – not too cold, not too hot, and that was the only time during this season that I was able to take mom to the concert.

Jesus Christ Superstar

I could never imagine that any Broadway in Chicago show could be a disappointment, yet it happened! It seemed, however, that Boris and I were the only two people in the audience who were disappointed. I checked several reviews – all of them are very positive. Only two of them mentioned imperfect sound mix, which made it difficult to understand the lyrics. In fact, it was so bad, that if I won’t know most of the lyrics by heart, it would be impossible. I do not want to go into details of what was bad, but I think that pretty much everything didn’t sound it’s best. Maybe, it was just that performance, because I hate to be in a disappointed minority :).