Tag Archives: tchaikovsky

Music – time to start thinking again

I saw a gorgeous concert on Friday night at the Teatro Municipal theatre in São Paulo. The theatre itself was something quite special and has been closed for years for renovation – only to open again about a month ago.
Teatro Municipal

As you can see from the location of my foot, we had front row seats and the orchestra was located immediately on stage with no pit or other barrier – the violins were right in front of my seat.Front row at the theatre

The music was great, a mixture of Tchaikovsky (No. 1 piano concerto) and a couple of Dvorak pieces, including his 8th symphony. It’s nice to hear music that I do regularly play on my iPod, but the difference with a large orchestra compared to a stereo recording is the call-response nature of the orchestra sections. When you are sitting there in person, it’s just nice to hear the strings play a phrase, to be echoed through various parts of the orchestra.

As I was sitting there listening to the music though, it did start me thinking about how hard it is to just switch off and listen to music these days. When I was a kid I would lie on the floor, or in bed, listening to every note of an album. Now music tends to be something consumed while running, or working… just in the background and not worthy of switching off the phone or Internet.

Have we all lost our attention span to the extent that stopping to focus on something for over one hour feels unusual? Dvorak's 8th

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Ballet… again

So here I am again and I did make it to the ballet on December 19th in São Paulo as I had hoped (the show in Bixiga). But even though the show was better in the second half than the first and it featured principals from both the Royal Ballet and English National Ballet, I left a bit disappointed.

One of the great things when you watch one of the classic Tchaikovsky ballets is hearing the orchestra play live. I know there is an entire theatre full of people, but I always feel like the orchestra is playing just for me when I see them all performing. Sometimes, I’ll be watching them instead of the dance, especially the percussionist just waiting for the right moment to hit the triangle.

Yet, the show in Bixiga had a recorded soundtrack. So even with great dancers from great ballet companies, they just put on a CD for the music. That took some of the romance out of the experience.

Plus, there were some strange liberties taken in the choreography. I was a bit non-plussed on a few occasions. The Nutcracker is a simple fairy story. Most people know the story, or have some idea of it if they have not read it or seen the show for a long time. Yet I was wondering what was going on sometimes. Particularly on occasions like the battle with the rats. In all the productions I have ever seen, Clara saves the Nutcracker from a final attack by the King Rat. When they go to the magical land of the sweets/snow, the Nutcracker mimes the battle and explains how she saved him. The mime was there in this version, except she had not saved him from the battle at all. And the music at the end of the battle, where a pas de deux marks where they fall in love, did not feature a pas de deux at all… these are all quite fundamental plot developments and yet I had not idea what was going on.

Still, it was fun to see a completely new production. I’m just glad I saw some other productions in the UK first!