I did, in the end, go to Boston to hear the BSO's concert in honor of my great-grandfather. It was a trek, and I'm exhausted. Even though I stayed with a cousin in Shrewsbury (about an hour closer to MPOW than Boston proper), I still went to bed too late (midnight-ish), woke up too early (4:30am) and didn't get a whole lot of sleep. Still, I'm really glad I went. It was fun seeing some of my extended family, getting all glammed out for the occasion and doing something totally out of my normal range of daily life.
But that's not what you're interested in, is it? You don't care about which cousin is doing what, or how the mistakes got into the profile of my great-grandfather, or even who-all was there. You want to know about the music. The concert. The important stuff. Assuming you're not a member of my family, of course, in which case you don't care about the concert, you want the details.
The first piece was a little... challenging is the only word I can use. I don't like music that makes me think too hard. I'm not talking about the type of thinking where you ponder the use of a particular instrument, or key, or theme. I'm not talking about the type of thinking where you're transported by some fragment or chord. I'm talking about the type of thinking that says, "I really don't get this piece and why anyone would play it. Maybe I'm too stupid to enjoy it." Because, despite my lack of knowledge about Classical Music, I'm usually not too stupid to enjoy it. But this piece ("Nymphea Reflection" by Saariaho) really made me question that assumption. It sounded (to me, and my untutored ear) like a piece that would be so much better underlying a ballet, or as a movie score. But alone, it just didn't quite work for me.
The next piece was Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, with Piotr Anderszewski. He was really wonderful to watch. Over the past few years, I've gotten to know (and love) some classical pianists, many of whom you'll get to know and love as they mature, and while I'm not an expert, I think I have a sense of their abilities and talents. He was one of the best. Not just technically, although that really does count in this particular field, but emotionally. All the men in the orchestra, and the conductor, wore white tie. Very snazzy and elegant. He, on the other hand, wore a tux with a crew-neck grey sweater underneath. Very trendy and casual. And that summed up his attitude. Other pianists I've seen look as though they're deep in concentration when they're listening to the orchestra do its thing. He looked like he was mentally bopping his head in time with the music, a small smile playing on his face. When he played, he looked relaxed and happy and playful: not the norm. Usually there's intensity, showmanship. Not here. It made for a great performance.
After the intermission, there were two pieces by Sibelius. Now, I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase "tone poem", my mind just goes [insert squeal and sound of mental feet running far, far away here]. So you just know I wasn't in the mood. Boy, was I wrong. "The Bard", part of the same suite that gave us "Finlandia", is really quite nice. And short. The final piece, the Symphony No. 3 in C, was, well, good but a bit of a letdown after the fun of Beethoven and the pleasant surprise of "The Bard."
Sadly, now it's back to my normal, lazylife and lazyroutine. Unless someone out there takes pity on me and comes up with another crazy "you'll regret it if you don't go" idea for a night out.