CWG

That’s a little joke between D and me. It stands for “Concert was good,” which is what I usually say just after I have come in the door from a concert. (D comes to the opera but mostly not to concerts.) It’s part of our private (now less so, I guess, though not by much) vocabulary of acronyms, along with, for example, GST (MSG), MSG (GST), WG (“what gear?” dating from when we had a manual car and D exhibited reluctance to change down when taking corners), KD (keep distance: another plea by me from the passenger seat) and WB (old internet talk for “welcome back” in the days of IRC).

Actually there’s also SFU (STFU)as a response to things like WG and KD, but that is hardly special to us.

Tonight with some of the Dulwich Hill gang to the SSO to hear the same program I heard on Friday night.

I enjoyed it much more. Why?

One hypothesis: it was a Saturday and not squeezed in at the end of a working day.

Another hypothesis: I didn’t go with Dx, my hypercritical professional musician friend returning to the SOH after a long absence and a musical life in Europe.

A third hypothesis: I sat in the rear of the stalls rather than the front of the circle.

A fourth hypothesis: the orchestra played differently.

A fifth hypothesis: I was hearing the program for a second time.

These hypotheses are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I put the biggest weight on 3 and 5.

As to 1 and 2, I’m reminded of the legal realist aphorism that a decision depends on what the judge had for breakfast. It’s one reason why I’m glad I’m not a critic.

As to 4, my fellow Dulwich Hill gangsters expressed the view that the orchestra’s playing of a specific program doesn’t vary very much. Given what I’ve said about 1 and 2, that’s a hard thing to be sure of though in an overall way it is probably largely true. It is only incidental, but the masking tape had been removed from the panels closest to the circle since last night, so some things at least had changed.

As to 3, the sound of the orchestra was definitely superior in the rear stalls. The woodwind perhaps didn’t carry so well as they do to the circle, but the string sound certainly was much warmer and could balance the brass. The brass didn’t stick out in the way it did when I was upstairs.

5 mostly affected my response to the Carl Vine concerto. I knew where he was going and I could respond to it more familiarly. It’s no coincidence that many famous works have received a lukewarm reception at their first performance. I wouldn’t go so far yet as to predict fame for this particular work. Returning to (3), the piano sound in the stalls was definitely better. In particular I enjoyed the last third or so of the first movement and the whole of the middle movement, though the pianistic writing still struck me as not being particularly interesting. My fellow gangsters enjoyed it, though when I pressed them they didn’t go so far as to declare they would make a special effort to hear it again. It is an effective work.

I still would have liked to have heard all of Images (ie, Iberia as well). I really enjoyed the Brahms.

3 Responses to “CWG”

  1. wanderer Says:

    Re hypothesis two, it occurs to me to ask if Dx is hypercritical because he/she is a professional and/or because of the European exposure and/or just personality. Regardless, there remains the suggestion that, even with consideration as the where the bar for ‘critical’ is set, the locals skew towards hypocritical if not necessarily as to what is felt good then at least as to what is satisfying.

    I agree that the front circle seats are far from the best for sound as well as perhaps being the most susceptible to good vs bad visual ascetics, and synaesthesia with its hyper/hypo influence etc

    I’ve also felt that a very good orchestra’s (BPO,VPO) sound can seem less disturbed by the bad acoustics whereas lesser playing is more exposed and vulnerable to degradation for fairly obvious reasons.

    And while I’m banging on, your list is a good one. Take 5 – ‘hearing it for a second time’ and extrapolate that into little exposure, at least live. I wondered whether some or much audience enthusiasm for the “Wagner Under The Sails” (beginning negative synaesthesia already) was simply because we are starved for it down here and the first drops of water (just the melodies even) are enough to quench and satisfy whereas for some there was also arguably 1,2, and 3 on top of 4 – lesser playing in a bad acoustic with bad visuals – and you have what I think is called a lay down misere.

  2. marcellous Says:

    RE Dx, all three, but they’re causally linked, I’d say.

  3. Reading between the lines « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] on melons « Opera Australia 2013 CWG […]

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