You don’t usually hear people walking the streets and humming the trumpet line of Dvorak 8; similarly, it’s uncommon to discuss, or even silently ponder, his intense harmonies and resolutions. But! Dvorak’s 8th symphony is a remarkably powerful piece that carries many distinct motives and melodies that, for whatever reason, don’t carry the massive appeal of so many other pieces of the romantic era. On that note, next time you find yourself wandering around with nothing to do, put on a recording and listen closely. You’ll be delighted, I’m sure of this, by the ending—if ever a piece goes out guns-blazing, this is it. Enjoy!
Today was craft day, which would have been a great way to spend the day, obviously, but to make it even better this evening we went to see the Salt Lake Symphony at Ham Hall. And they played Dvorak 8. That wasn’t the reason we went, though. In fact, the SL Symphony wasn’t reason enough either. Our purpose in going was to hear the pianist Jeremy Denk work his magic on Beethoven’s 1st piano concerto. Jeremy Denk is a pianist worthy of admiration. His fingers apply just that perfect amount of pressure to every note, blending with the orchestra in all the right ways. Watching him play is a beautiful experience itself; his body movements seem designed to follow the flow of the piece, yet completely natural and spontaneous. The concerto was amazing, particularly the cadenza at the end of the first movement, but his caress of each note throughout the piece made the entire thing a work of art. His is some of the finest piano playing I have ever heard, and it seems almost a miracle that he would venture to southern Nevada for a concert.
During my glorious life as a student in New York City I experienced my fair share of run-ins with celebrities. Actually, no, not at all. See, while living in the big apple my time was distributed between concerts at Lincoln Center and Carnegie hall, and a practice room. But that’s everything I wanted out of New York so it worked for me. One of the very few occasions that I ventured down to the village was to see Jeremy Denk play Ives. It was an informal performance at a very small bar, where new music was being performed regularly. I went early, and sure enough, there sat Mr. Denk himself. Being as it was quite early, we were the only two people there, so I introduced myself awkwardly, and proceeded to giddily inform him of what a big fan I was of his. He quickly found somewhere else to be and shuffled off before I could embarrass myself any further; his performance that night did not suffer in the least. Ah, but that remains one of the few times I’ve meet a musician who I admired so very much.
The concert tonight was very special, both on account of the performer and the exceedingly high caliber of musicianship brought on by the Salt Lake Symphony, but also because it’s easy to forget how fragile the arts are, and hearing such a fine performance reminds me of that. (For example, what if Beethoven had been in a particularly foul mood while composing this concerto—think of how different it could have turned out.)
I hope you all enjoy your weekend, and if you’re looking for a place to appreciate the arts in action, head up to Boulder City for the always pleasing Art in the Park.