Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Chronicles of Clovis (1912)

So, it started with Saki's "Tobermory" - based on a list of the allegedly top 25 cats in sci fi & fantasy - but then I started getting curious about Clovis. The one-word name suggested a butler, but he seemed to have the access and freedom of a guest. I tracked down the Chronicles and went back to the beginning with "Esmé" and, now, "The Match-Maker."

I liked this bit of Wildean dialogue* between Clovis and his host:
"My mother is thinking of getting married." 
"It's the first time." 
"Of course, you ought to know.  I was under the impression that she'd been married once or twice at least." 
"Three times, to be mathematically exact.  I meant that it was the first time she'd thought about getting married; the other times she did it without thinking."

FN* I think I'm safe comparing Saki (1870-1916) to Wilde (1854-1900) in this manner, since Munro (later Saki) only started writing as Wilde's career was winding down, and this collection in particular - published 12 years after Wilde's death - certainly could not have influenced Wilde.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Halloween Inside-Out

I've seen the Park Ave Symphony Orchestra before, but not in a few years - and certainly not since they started their "inside-out" concerts.  This one was Halloween-themed, with "Danse Macabre" by Saint-Saëns  and then "Symphonie fantastique" by Berlioz.

The room is set up with the orchestra in a  large semi-circle facing the conductor, and the audience seats are scattered around - some next to the harps, some infiltrating the violin section, others in a row in front of the percussion section but behind the oboes, trumpets, and clarinets, still others in a clump immediately in front of the conductor but immersed by the stringed instruments, etc., etc.

Some sections had already filled up by the time we arrived, but we claimed spots behind some friendly French horn players.  They assured us we had picked the best seats in the house, and I assured them we'd let them know if they missed a note.

What a blast!  The conductor explained what was going on in each piece, and what to listen for.  We were definitely in a great place for the Danse Macabre, with the xylophone (skeleton) behind us to our right, and good views of many of the other featured instruments.  I am not sure I've heard the work before (unless possibly via exposure to my 8th grade music teacher's really cool lending collection*), but very much enjoyed it.

The Symphonie Fantastique was less immediately gripping, but after two movements the conductor moved the entire audience around, section by section.  So we ended up in the front row of the violin section.  As in, I was sitting pretty much close enough to knock elbows with the musician to my left while he was playing (though I was careful not to do so).  The only bad thing about that seat was that I had an obstructed view of the cellists - my friend had the better view of them.  But no matter -  I spent a lot of time looking around at the different sections anyway.  And the fourth and fifth movements of SF were quite exciting.

FN* The music teacher at SJS had a seemingly vast collection of tapes of famous classical pieces, with (as I recall) a brief description of what to listen for in each.  If memory serves, we were required to take a certain number of tapes home and listen to them, but were also allowed to earn extra credit by borrowing additional ones.  (I assume we also had to somehow prove we'd done so.)  Unfortunately, the only one I specifically recall from that era is Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf.