Saturday, August 13, 2016

National Youth Orchestra (of Canada)

I have to say Friday was quite a disappointment.  The workmen showed up quite early (8 am) and they took measurements and actually came up with a decent plan that should involve less tearing out of walls and less mess and perhaps the whole thing can be done in a single day, which would be incredible.  However, they then took off for Home Depot and either got called away to another job or just put in the order for materials and figured they could split for the day.  I really was expecting to get the stairs to the basement fixed at the very least.  And even if they didn't do that, they could at least have had the work manager let me know, and I would have got in to work, since they have air conditioning.  Instead, I worked from home and suffered quite a bit.  It did rain (very late last night), but the outside temperature is still too high.  I don't think things actually improve until Monday.

I'm heading out very shortly (in part because I have to find some tax forms I think are at the office -- and this was another reason Friday was a disaster -- the tax authorities are trying to deny me my legitimate tax credits and currently say I owe them a lot of moolah).  While I may swing by the AGO, I really ought to look into seeing a movie just to get somewhere it is more comfortable.  (I had been kind of interested in seeing Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold and it is playing at Bloor Hot Doc at 4 pm.  That might work, though it will mean a bit of zigzagging on transit if I do that and everything else (and the subway to Pape is closed, so it means spending more time on the streetcars).

While I think it is mostly the weather that is bothering me, it is also true that I am in a particularly dry spell for books.  I didn't care for Elizabeth Bowen's The Death of the Heart (or rather the writing was good, but I was so uninterested in the core "couple" though the secondary characters were interesting, which is basically how I felt about Taylor's A Game of Hide and Seek).  I really don't like Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theater, and I am on the point of abandoning it, for reasons I'll probably go into later.  And even NYRB is kind of letting me down -- I am just not that moved by either Eileen Chang's Love in a Fallen City or Sasha Sokolov's A School for Fools.  I think I'll have to rearrange my reading list and either reread a book I liked or choose one I am almost certain I will like.  Or of course, I could take more time for my own writing.

In any case, I wanted to talk about Thurs. evening when I went and saw the National Youth Orchestra of Canada.  One thing that is interesting is that they are playing quite a few different pieces on their summer tour, and for once Toronto had a more interesting program than Montreal.  For one thing, they played two newly commissioned pieces (not that I thought they were particularly brilliant) and second, the played a full concert (actually 2.5 hours) and it looks like the Montreal concert is just over one hour without intermission.  They played a very fine version of Wagner's Tannhauser Overture and perhaps the best version of Bloch's Schelomo for Solo Cello and Orchestra I've heard live (not that I've seen it too often).  They did a rousing version of Prokofiev's Symphony #5, though the one by the VSO a few years back edges them out. I was kind of hoping they would do John Adams's Short Ride on a Fast Machine as the encore, but instead they suddenly did a choir piece (perhaps a cantata by Bach).  It was beautiful and took the audience completely by surprise.  How incredible.

They apparently did the recording for their tour CD in Toronto over the previous 2 days, and I need to find out what they will put on it.  I'll probably get it if the Bloch piece is on there.  It appears that they recorded Prokofiev 5 a few years back, so I'm guessing it will be the Bernstein West Side Story suite in its place (this is what they will be performing in Montreal).  In any case, CBC recorded Thurs. night's concert (hopefully through the encores) and I will certainly try to circle back and post details about that when I find out.  (I usually have a bad record of keeping up with these things, particularly as I don't really listen to CBC radio.  My guess is it will be broadcast in September.)  They will also be announcing details of the 2017 sesquicentennial tour tomorrow, so I'll link to that news flash when it goes live.  Anyway, it was a very good concert, and I'm glad that I caught it (I don't think it got a lot of publicity, though I ran across the ad in the Whole Note).  Anyway, fall is almost around the corner and the TSO season is looking pretty good for once, and Tafelmusik is doing Handel's Water Music, which is something I really can't miss.  Ok.  I had better get going now that there is a break in the rain.

Update: So the news has arrived that the 2017 tour will visit several communities in the far north. News release here. That's interesting in a general sense, and I am sure totally thrilling for the orchestra members, though not all that interesting to me. I thought they might also talk about what would be performed on the tour, but no such luck. I guess I'll just keep my eyes open next summer.

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