ClassicalMusic Concert Review
Trueclassical musical lovers are most likely to come across a performanceof Vaughan Williams’ compositions in their lifetime. Born in 1872,Williams composed symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, andfilm scores which have remained relatively popular over the years.Given my studies and interest in classical music, I have taken aspecial interest in the works of the Vaughan Williams. To cap thisinterest, I attended a concert by Noelle Bauman, Julia Castellanosand Tom Holdener who performed some of Williams’ compositions. Theconcert was held on……..at …………….as shown by the programattached.
Theconcert started with the first movement “A song for all seas, allships” that has proven to be a favorite with many classical musicenthusiasts. I have in the past explored the text of thiscomposition and acknowledged the fact that it explores issues relatedto the sea and relevant to sailors but also explores general issuesthat raise questions of our existence as living beings. In line withwhat is to be expected of the sea and its wilderness, the movementsstarted in B-flat minor that echoes the idea of loneliness akin tothe feeling of being abandoned at sea or being away from civilizationin the open waters or lost in the wild. This blends very well withthe composition whose text was largely borrowed from Walt Whitman’sleaves of grass.
Thescale soon changed to a D-major that largely changes the pitch andthe mood to that of conquering or almost jubilation. The emphasis onthis scale was most obvious in the word ‘sea’ which the soloistemphasized on and exemplary play from the violin. In a way, it feltlike conquering the loneliness of the sea expressed the B-flat minoralthough I felt that it might feel like an early climax in theperformance. Several classical composers from the romantic periodsuch as Beethoven have used this scale for the final movement andheighten excitement. This way, the performance was able to portray achange in musical mood to match the text of the composition. Thischange in the musical mood to match with the text continuedthroughout the hour-long performance of this particular composition.
Thesecond movement was “on the beach at night, alone” also carriedthe same musical mood from the previous performance. However, thisone started out with two vocal soloists, a soprano and a baritonewhich were filled with languor to match the mood of the text and putmeaning into the words. In so many ways, there was nothing notable inthis performance. There were no vividly expressed scales and pitchesthat I could identify. For some people, especially those unaccustomedto classical music, this would be perceived as soulless music.However, the aspect of ‘lacking’ a soul was intended atcommunicating a certain message and even evoking certain feelings andemotions in the audience. In my view, this was a mythical performanceto capture and highlight the mystery of the sea. It is commonknowledge that the sea holds many secrets hidden below the surface ofthe water. The performers thus provided hints and ideas of pitchesand scales without delving deep into them.
Thethird movement was the “waves”. As the name suggests, thisperformance was fast moving, oscillating and overlapping. The factthat waves are not definite and are on the move always was portrayedby using almost all musical forces that the orchestra and theperformers could master individually and in different combinations. I felt that this can be very challenging to the performers in thesense that he fast pace required a high level of attention from allthe parties involved. Furthermore, high level attention was alsovisible from the crowd with a large section of the audience as far asI could see was very keen.
Thefourth and final movement was “the explorers”. To me, this wasthe most exciting and demanding performance to me. It summarized allthe movements and also portrayed the journey across a vast andmysterious ocean, through loneliness and tiresomeness to an eternalshore. The soloists acquitted themselves from the wide-rangingpassages to bring out a very thrilling performance. The text and themusical mood of this movement matched very well. Given its length, itwas divided into two sections. However, the message was the same. Thejourney had ended and a new journey of exploration had begun.
Afterthis final performance, there was unanimous agreement in the audiencethat this was a great performance expressed through a thunderousapplause. In my view, I was very impressed with the overall concert.However, I promised myself to attend another concert of the samesymphonies performed by a different ensemble to not only compare andcontrast but also help me evaluate and understand how the differentindividual talents and skills of an ensemble influences classicalperformances. In my mind, I believe that a performance can varygreatly from one ensemble to another. On the overall, I am gratefulfor the class assignment that led me to attend this concert andexplore classical music further.