Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Symphony

Alex and I went to the symphony to experience the TSO presenting The Planets by Gustav Holst. I know the word "experience" sounds a bit pretentious, doesn't it, but I don't mean it to sound that way. It's just that the words 'listen' or 'see' or 'feel' just don't seem to fit when you are describing a live performance. Like Alex said, "it just sounds better."

In addition to giving each of the planets a distinct musical astrological personality the opus was also introduced as representing the "arc of a life," with Saturn the Bringer of Old Age being Holst's favourite movement. It was quite war-like, actually, to my ears, like a sudden assault, instead of being something that sneaks up insidiously, which is how I think I would depict it. (Holst was 44 when he composed this, so maybe for him he saw Old Age's approach as something rude that was charging towards him, that should be fought off....). Anyway, my personal favourite was Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity, which actually sounded like laughter in parts. You can listen to a portion of the symphony here.

The Planets is Holst's most popular composition, one of the most played of any English composer, but it wasn't one of his personal favourites. Funny how that seems to work.

The TSO was recording the concert so asked people not to clap between the movements, and to please try to avoid coughing at all during the performance. So instead of clapping between pieces, the audience ended up politely coughing during the intervals. Alex and I would just look at each other and laugh.

A great way to spend an evening, enjoying the music with my son.

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