Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Well, I've been brainwashed.

It's true, I have.  I went to a recital tonight, and, while I was there, I was overwhelmed with the urge to write a review of the event, as I had to do in college for my listening credit hours, which I generally tried to meld with my recital credits, when possible.  As a result, I have a couple of notebook pages worth of a paper, and no on to whom I should give it.  So, although you can't give me college credit for it, I'm going to share my "assignment" with you.

First, the program, which you need as proof of my attendance:

Then, my review (It may be a little disjointed, as, since none of you can give me any kind of grade for this that will affect my future, I'm only typing out for you what I wrote at the recital and not editing it much at all):

The program opened with an elegantly dressed violinist playing Vittorio Monti's "Csardas," which had me utterly captivated  by its haunting melody, that is, until we got to about the halfway part.  Upon hearing the change to a section done entirely in harmonics, I became quite convinced of his insanity.  The only question that was left for me to debate was whether or not the violinist could qualify as more insane than Monti, as she willingly selected and practiced this monster of a piece for hours on end, somehow conquering it, and making it through the piece with only the harmonic section giving her any grief, as it would anyone.

I must say, I was disappointed in Korea's apparent constant need for electronic "enhancements."  While the reverb added by the sound technicians was esthetically pleasing, for the hall was somewhat lacking by way of acoustics, the coast was found in blocking the faces of the performers with a microphone.  It is rare indeed that a classical performer actually needs one, and many of them were actually backing far away from it, so its presence was rather a frustration for me more than anything else.

The appropriate attire for accompanists seemed to be a matter on which Korean and American cultures also differ.  The many hot pink gowns that flowed over the piano bench often not so much as took away my attention from the performer at hand as they screamed for it, occasionally seeming to grab me bodily and turn me toward themselves.  Add to that sequins, multi-colored skirts, and yellow tule, and you have a sure-fire recipe for culture shock.  Luckily, G-d invented eyelids to be closed, and close mine did, allowing for my renewed focus on the upstaged performer.

And then came the Schubert, the hope of which had been sustaining me since the moment I heard of this event.  It brought with it, of course, another hot pink gown, but it was at least worn by the soprano, 신정헤, this time, so all attention was forcibly placed on the correct person, and, oh my, was it due.  This woman was the possessor of the single largest voice I have ever had the pleasure to hear live in my life.  She was obviously singing with only a fraction of what she could, making it look and sound as easy as if a child, fresh out of the womb could sing Schubert.  The only hint of nerves to be found showed itself only in her hands  which balled themselves into fists or stretched into other odd contortions when she was resting for long passages.

To my pleasure, the first half ended with a Baritone aria from Verdi's Attila.  While I have no great love for Italian (as I do for German), Verdi does hold a special place in my heart.  Furthermore, Baritones rarely fail to steal away my breath, and 박재명 was no exception.  His luscious tones filled the room in a nature most counterintuitive to his stiff mannerisms on stage. In spite of that, it was a satisfying end of half, and I felt somewhat warmed, a feat, as I'm almost positive the auditorium remained unheated tonight, thus proving the extreme welcome of the velvet blanket his tone and timbre cast over me, if only for a moment.

After the intermission, I began to wonder if I had  perhaps missed a theme, as, yet again, a hot pink dress walked across the stage, this time adorning the body of a solo pianist, 박유선.  She was no David Finney, my accompanist in college (nor will anyone ever be, is I allow my very biased opinion be known), but so far as I could tell, she was very good.  However, as my piano training ended in the seventh grade, I can't pretend that I'm a very good judge.  I can tell you, however, that she was both pleasing to listen to and watch, which is an accomplishment, as many musicians get carried away on the ocean waves of their music, consequently causing seasickness in their poor listeners/viewers.  Luckily, that was no the case in this instance.

I was disappointed in the omission of the promised "O mio babbino caro" from the program that was originally advertised, a disappointment further hightened by a severe lack of recital training of my fellow audience members.  Although I loathed the time we spent officially learning it in university, I'm now extremely grateful.

[As the cold set in still deeper, I found myself writing less (and what I did write got severely edited), as the cold tends to shorten my temper and sharpen my pen, so much of the second half is missing from my recounting, I did leave alone my commentary on the finale.]

Nothing less than cuteness shone though in the finale, Galop March for 1 Piano, 8 Hands by A.J. Lavignac, which was a little sad, or perhaps impressive, since there was an immense amount of talent on the stage as several of the evening's accompanists performed together.  They were truly charming, and would have left the evening feeling nothing more than adorable, had there not been another performance unmentioned in the program.  All of the evening's performers found their ways back on the stage to sing and ballroom dance their ways through one final piece eluding to days long past, and, somehow, convince the hear that we may not have come out entirely on top for their loss.

All in all, it was a delightful evening, and I would gladly attend any other put together by the lady and organizer of the event, 강성애, although, preferably, with a working heating system or heavier coat.

Me, the program, and my writing


  1. Firstly, I really enjoyed reading this. Secondly, I always wondered what sort of thing you had to write for these things! I'm so glad that I finally know! :) And I would have broken all the recital rules because I would have commented on every dress I think lol.

  2. Well, I probably should have commented more on technique, and not censored out one rather unfortunate case of nerves and talked about what he could have done to salvage his performance, but, as this is a briefly censored copy of my first draft/notes, I didn't bother to do that for just a blog entry. :P