Siege Diaries 4/10/2022

1. Works, recalled and unearthed

If there was a concert on this year’s Toronto Symphony season I was especially looking forward to, it was Wednesday evening’s–it represented the fulfillment of wishes dashed by the pandemic. I had never heard the Beethoven Violin Concerto played live, but had a ticket in hand for a performance in the spring of 2020, a few weeks after the world locked down. The work is one of those I first fell in love with as a young violin student. I owned a copy of a 1965 performance with Isaac Stern and the Berlin Philharmonic on vinyl; it was one of those records that predated even owning a stereo, and so my copy became scratched and grooved and so was one of the first I replaced when CDs became available.

The concert, featuring Canadian violinist James Ehnes, definitely brought forward those memories, and once again demonstrated the power of live performance. My seat was just a few rows back, directly across from the soloist, affording the opportunity to appreciate the warm tones of Ehnes’ violin (with its reddish-toned chinrest and tailpiece)–richness that would have been lost had I been sitting further away. Ehnes radiates a kind of unflappable cool when he’s playing, as if he’s fully immersed in the world of the music. He’s not without body language or the occasional facial expression or gesture, but his focus is on the expression of the music itself. This particularly leant itself well to the virtuosity of the outer two movements, particularly the exuberant finale. I was enraptured watching his fingers fly seemingly effortlessly. The cadenzas chosen were the same ones on the Stern recording, so there was that kind of comfortable familiarity, but yet there were differences–the way the portion played in double stops was expressed, for instance, was different, more crisp, for example. It was an amazing performance, one worth waiting for (and it looks like I may see him perform the Tchaikovsky violin concerto next year).

That aside, the first piece on the program, a new work called the sediments by composer-in-residence Emilie le Bel, was a wonderfully evocative work. Opening with an unworldly chord that hit the listener with a wall of sound, the work went on to present a sound world of dripping crystal caves and rushing streams. I do hope the work is recorded soon. I would gladly listen to it again.

2. Works completed and commenced

I finished the Constructivist embroidery piece. Now, I just wait for the tunic top that it will go on to arrive. This cleared up time to complete the An Tir backlog scroll that I had taken on, originally for the 48 hour scribal challenge that occurred two weekends ago. When work on the LoMI and other more pressing matters took up time, I delayed it, but kept the assignment. I was able to finish it easily yesterday. I have also started on a new embroidery project–one with an altruistic purpose which I will reveal once it’s ready.

3. Intermezzo
Today at CWH there was a show of drag race cars and memorabilia. It was rather intensely popular. Luckily, the museum requires masks, or there’s no way I could have stood the crowds. We are definitely entering yet another COVID wave, but there seems to be a collective “meh” in the air about it. Luckily, the TSO crowd remains largely masked as well, and I’ve felt no pressure to take mine off anywhere else. It’ll be staying on for the foreseeable future.

I also found out the friend whose CA I helped edit has been put on vigil for the Order of the Laurel. I’m not sure if she will be the first Laurel specializing in Death, but I’m guessing she likely will be.

3. Works, to come

I have my Toronto Symphony tickets for next year ordered. Kindred Spirits Orchestra also released their plans for next year–and they include Shostakovich’s Symphony no. 4, which is an ambitious undertaking, but one I am totally here for.

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