Sunday, July 25, 2004


Yes, we missed the shindig for local bloggers at Keegan's Pub last night (read all about it), but we have a tolerably good excuse. We had tickets to the Minnesota Orchestra last night, and while the performance didn't start until 8:00, our babysitter's arrival time didn't leave much of a window of opportunity. But I hear that these get-togethers might become semi-regular, so perhaps we'll make the next one.

And we love Keegan's. Our typical visit goes like this: I order a Guinness, Eloise orders a Black and Tan, and Eloise kicks my ass in backgammon; I order another Guinness and Eloise, continuing to nurse her Black and Tan, kicks my ass in backgammon again; I order another Guinness and Eloise, still nursing, lets me win one.

As for the orchestra, I'm still too much of a novice on classical music to critique the performers, but I can say that I greatly enjoyed myself, which I suppose is all that matters in the end. The program was an amiable one: Beethoven is Beethoven, the Colossus Who Bestrode the Earth in virtually everything he composed, and Dvorak's New World Symphony, with its four movements' worth of memorable themes (of how many symphonies can that truly be said?) and its irrepressible forward momentum, is impossible not to like.

But the highlight for me was the middle piece, the Brahms Violin Concerto. There are few musical forms as inherently dramatic as the concerto, pitting as it does a solitary virtuoso against the leviathan of the orchestra. And, as Eloise and I discussed afterwards, there is something especially dramatic about a violin concerto, as opposed to (say) a piano concerto. The violin and the piano may be roughly equivalent instruments in their ranges of expressivity, but the violinist has to stand there--in front, alone, and protected only by a little box of wood, not by the mammoth ebony imperturbability of a concert grand piano. Brahms exploits this dynamic to great effect, and despite the fact that I'd never heard it until I bought this CD Thursday night in preparation, his Violin Concerto is rocketing up my personal chart of all-time faves.

Ther was one irksome aspect of the night, however. A nearby codger actually started snoring about two minutes into the Brahms (one of the commonly accepted indicia of brain death, if I'm not mistaken). At least, it sounded like he was snoring--when the horking and snergling noises continued after the intermission during the Dvorak, it seemed as if the heavy-lidded eyes on his rutabaga head were in fact slightly ajar, so who knows what was going on. Whatever it was, it was loud, and his wife, who displayed a befuddled, "have they started playing yet, dear?" expression all night, was no help. Eloise made eye contact with the poor woman sitting directly behind him a couple of times, and the expression on her face was the very epitome of long suffering.

Now that's something the Minneapolis City Council should ban!


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