Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Much-Needed Weekend

Joshua and I did not do much this weekend, but we had a very relaxing and restful couple of days, which both of us very much needed.

On Friday night, Josh and I stayed in town after work and met my parents for an early dinner, after which we all walked over to Orchestra Hall to hear the Minnesota Orchestra play Rossini, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Hindemith under Music Director Osmo Vanska (or Aksnav Omso, as Josh calls him).

The orchestra’s playing was pretty rough in the first half of the program. The Overture to “The Barber Of Seville” sounded as if it had received no rehearsal whatsoever, and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto that followed sounded as if it had received one quick run-through with soloist Baiba Skride, a young Latvian violinist who received her music education in Germany. The first half of the program was a total loss, showing no one—orchestra musicians, conductor, soloist—on good form.

The second half of the program was much, much better. “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” sounded as if it had been very carefully rehearsed—the playing was marvelous, the balance near-perfect, attacks and releases unanimous. The “Mathis Der Maler” Symphony that concluded the program obviously had received the lion’s share of rehearsal time, because the playing was confident and bold in a work that receives few performances in the U.S.

The “Mathis Der Maler” is what drew Josh and me to the concert, and we were pleased to hear this magnificent work. It received an excellent reading, marred only by some opaqueness in the string ensemble and muddy orchestral textures at climaxes. Vanska downplayed the spirituality inherent in the work, but his conducting of “Mathis Der Maler” suggested to me that he should program more Hindemith in Minneapolis. A logical next step would be for him to program Hindemith’s Symphony In E Flat, a marvelous modernist masterpiece without the spiritual dimension of “Mathis”. I think the Symphony In E Flat would be right up Vanksa’s alley.

On Saturday, Josh and I ran errands all morning. In the afternoon, we went over to my parents’ house to do yard work. The dog was happy to see us—he had a great afternoon, romping around the yard, keeping a close eye on everything that was going on. We stayed for dinner, and my mother fed us homemade vegetable cream soup, followed by a seafood soufflĂ©, followed by chicken breasts and pasta in a cream sauce, accompanied by steamed carrots and broccoli. For dessert, we had fresh raspberries.

Josh and I did not do much of anything today. After church, we picked up my parents’ dog and brought him home with us, because my parents had to attend a function at my mother’s relatives. We took the dog to the park this afternoon, and ran him around and played games with him for almost three hours. He loved it.

Tonight we gave my parents dinner when they stopped by to retrieve the dog. We gave the dog his Sunday night baked chicken, naturally, but the rest of us had a tomato-cucumber salad, steamed salmon and seasoned rice, corn and lima beans, and an apple-cranberry salad.

It will be back to work tomorrow for another long week.

At least on Wednesday night Josh and I will have a break, because we will go to Saint Paul to hear Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel in recital. Josh has never heard Terfel, and it may be my last time to hear him, because Terfel has been significantly cutting back his engagements.

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