Last night. Hot night. 102F in the afternoon, and still in the high 90s at 6pm-ish, when I left for the Park. I debated staying home, but Joshua Bell is my favorite classical artist and I have seen him every summer for the last few years. So, off I went, sweating all the way.
Had a seat in the Pavilion, third row, right side. Great view of the stage.
The Chicago Symphony opened the recital with Barber’s School for Scandal Overture, Op. 5 and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 in E-flat Major, Op. 70. I wasn’t familiar with either work and I am far from an expert. The CSO sounded marvelous, as usual, and I know they can’t play a Beethoven or Mozart symphony every night. All I can say is that I liked the Barber–that’s been a developing trend over the years–but felt the Shostakovich didn’t hold together as a coherent work. Good to have heard it, but not interested in hearing it again.
Intermission. I drank water, fanned myself, and watched the stagehands rearrange instruments, chairs, and stands. Even though the sun had set, the temp didn’t budge. Some of the female musicians wore skirts–the color scheme was white/off-white shirt with black skirt or trousers–but most of the men and women wore trousers and some wore long sleeves as well and I don’t know how they tolerated sitting under the lights.
The second half of the show was Bell’s. He wore casual trousers and a sensible t-shirt–black or dark brown, couldn’t tell which. Again, I wasn’t familiar with the works he played, Barber’s Violin Concerto, Op. 14 and Ravel’s Tzigane, Concert Rhapsody. But they were both works for a fast-fingered, passionate virtuoso, and that’s Bell. Hair tossing as he played. Rocking back and forth to the music during orchestral interludes, eyes closed. And sweating, the poor man. By the time he finished, his t-shirt was soaked and his face shone. He received a standing ovation and three curtain calls, and I think he would have played an encore if it had been cooler.
When I got back to my car, the thermometer read 91F. At 10 o’clock at night. I blasted the A/C, and watched the lightning flash in the far northwest as I headed home.