ASO: Robert Spano with Jonathan Biss

I had high hopes for tonight’s ASO concert but, sadly, I was let down. I really like Higdon’s Concerto for Orchestra. It has some good power and lots of exciting bits but doesn’t neglect pure beauty. It’s a great piece to show off the sections of the orchestra as well as the principals. There are a lot of really good musicians in the ASO and they have done a really great recording of it but, sadly, I don’t think that, taken as a whole, they met the challenges of the piece this evening. The principals were mostly great, though I think that I’ve found that I don’t like the sound of the new principal double bassist’s instrument. I think that the sound that I didn’t like last weekend was coming from it, though it wasn’t as bad tonight. During his solos, it had a bright and disorganized sound to it and I found that I could pick his sound out when he was playing in ensemble both during the Higdon and the Beethoven, which I couldn’t do with any of the other bassists. It was one of two things that I had a hard time believing that I was hearing this evening and it made me feel a little like I might be crazy or something and I’m wondering if I would be able to hear the detail that bugs me if I were sitting further away. Also, one of the percussionists didn’t quite match the quality of the others tonight, which really threw huge sections of the piece for me.

The second half of the program, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 5, had a much better performance. The soloist, Jonathan Biss, who is known, in part, for his Beethoven, was amazing and really brought a lot to the piece. I’d also say that he channeled Glenn Gould, though not in a particularly good way: as he played the more challenging bits, he would make odd and often unpleasant sounds. It took me a while to realize that it was him making the sounds because the guy next to me wouldn’t stop tapping his foot, crunching on hard candy, and shuffling about. As I began to realize that the sound seemed to be coming from Biss instead of the guy next to me, it took me a while to believe it. Again, if I’d been sitting further away, this probably wouldn’t have been a problem.

I’m going to have to write to the subscription office to find out if the noisy guy next to me is a series subscriber: I’ll need to ask them to move me to another section if I’ve been seated next to him for most of the concerts. He completely ignored me when I asked him to stop tapping his foot and he doesn’t even really do it in rhythm to the music. Moving might be good for me, anyway, since I can’t seem to overlook when that disgusting fraud Stallings is there on Rick’s comp ticket when she’s two rows in front of me. I’m surprised that I still feel nauseated by the sight of her.

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