Music of the Baroque, NASCAR crashes, and errant phone calls

Given the delay of the Daytona 500 until yesterday evening I really didn’t want to go to the concert I had been looking forward to all month.   Apparently I’ve turned into quite a racing fiend because I ended up spending 45 minutes prior to the concert sitting in my car in a parking garage in Chicago listening to the race via TuneIn Radio.  The universe smiled on me and let me get a really good signal down there.  But eventually it was time to head in to the Music of the Barqoue concert so off went the race and in I went.

I have to admit that I can’t give a good account of how the concert went because I probably had about half of my attention on it.  But here is what I do remember:

  • Corelli, Concerto grosso, Op. 6 – I’ve heard this many times as I have the recording linked above (link came from the MotB website).   The performance was pleasing but didn’t hold my attention.
  • Purcell, Pavan and Fantasia on a Ground for 3 Violins – I’ve never been a particular fan of Purcell’s music and this piece didn’t do anything to change my mind.   Chicago Classical Review said:”Purcell’s Pavan and Fantasia Upon a Groundproved startling in its inventiveness and virtuoso flourishes. Dissonances appeared and vanished at surprising moments, including one ear-stretching passage just before the final bar”I’ve never enjoyed dissonant music and my appreciation of it didn’t increase here.  Part of the melody here was pretty much borrowed from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” but with an odd dissonant twist.
  • Telemann, Concerto for Flute and Recorder – You can’t argue with Telemann but again I’ve heard a lot of Telemann Flute/Recorder Concertos before.   The standout here was the Presto movement.  The tempo was swift (as Presto should be and faster than I’ve heard compared to other recordings of this movement), the strings were lush, and the flute and recorder precise.
  • Rameau, Suite from Dardanus – I am a huge fan of French Baroque in general and Rameau and Lully in particular.   The selections presented by Kraemer and MotB were from a much longer Rameau opera.  Rameau always feels regal and this was no different.   You can imagine yourself sitting in a French court of the 1700s listening to this music.  The strings of the Chaconne movement where unbelievably lush.  The feeling was very similar to the Chaconne of Rebel’s “Les Elements” (also performed at one point by Kraemer and MotB). Particularly fun were the “Tambourins” movements.  Again here we had swift tempos and to top it off Nicholas Kraemer was playing tambourine and gave himself a tap on the head with it to end the piece for comic effect.  The audience ate it up.
  • Telemann, Quadro in B-flat Major
  • Vivaldi, Concerto for 4 Violins and Cello in B Minor – The second Allegro movement was the standout here with the four violinists playing off of one another expertly.  It is hard to argue against Vivaldi being the greatest composer of string music of the Baroque period regardless of region of Europe.   Everyone knows “The Four Seasons”.   It is beautiful string music and this concerto was no different.

So back to the title of my post.   I, somewhat ashamed, have to admit I was spending an inordinate amount of time looking at Twitter and watching the nascar.com lap-by-lap update of the race during the concert.  I just couldn’t help myself.  I really wanted to see that race.  I can thank Juan Pablo Montoya for hitting the jet dryer truck during one of the cautions.  That led to a two hour red flag situation which not only gave me time to finish up the concert but drive 40 miles home and see the end of the race on TV.

The last interesting tidbit of the evening was a phone going off during the performance.  In between movements of one of the pieces being performed (the name of which escapes me right now) a phone started ringing.  It almost sounded like it was backstage because it was very muffled (unlike the unfortunate gentleman several months back at the New York Philharmonic performance of Mahler) but Nicholas Kraemer caught it and waited it out, at one point expressing exasperation.  The phone stopped ringing however and the performance continued.   It was a good night all around.

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