Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, Phoenix Symphony

2 weeks ago, on a Saturday night in February, Dr Desert Flower and I left a delicious crawfish boil at our friends' home in Gilbert to attend the Phoenix Symphony. Michael Christie was conducting Prokofiev's Symphony No 1, op25, and then another John Adams work (ugh! why is Christie obsessed with that guy!) Shaker Loops, followed by Peter and the Wolf (Peter i volk) op 67. with an "Oscar award winning film" by Susie Templeton. Well....

The Symphony No 1 was played superbly. It was engaging, dynamic, gripping. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Then, the dreadful Shaker Loops was trudged through. I found myself counting the pop-down sprinkler heads in the ceiling again, looking around the concert hall, impatiently enduring the quasi-minimalist work whilest looking forward to intermission and the pre-paid drinks I had awaiting us at the western entrance bar. Some cognac made me forget all about John Adams, ahhh.

After intermission, the playful Peter and the Wolf began. with a large screen over the stage showing the stop-motion animated short film. It was enjoyable - Christie kept up with the film nicely, and the animation was "cute", but as I look at my $62 ticket stub, I think "I paid $62 to hear Symphony No.1, be annoyed again by Adams cacophony, and then see a 30 minute film?" ...for that same price, I could have seen 5 movies at a theater, or paid my Netflix bill for 6 months. Oh well. It was interesting, but did not provide Dr Desert Flower or myself with $124 worth of symphonic joy. From the looks of the Facebook pictures of the crawfish boil after we left, I think we would have had alot more fun peeling shell fish and eating pinky-sized morsels of cajun seasoned food.


  1. I agree with you that Adams has limited appeal. What living composers do you listen to?
    Would you have been more satisfied with the concert if there had been no movie and it had a narrator? I felt the second half was short too. However, it was not a movie you could see in a movie theater and the element of a live orchestra is playing along can't be had for $10. Although it probably should be less than $62.

  2. Thinking back over the last century, Copland, Sousa, Bernstein, Some of Samuel Adler's works, Bartók, Dvorak, Samuel Barber, some of Glenn Miller's works, Fripp & Eno & Byrne (but not to be played in a concert, ugh!), Gershwin, Stravinsky all come to mind... most of them dead.

    I think Robert, had the Adams been supplanted by something more palatable, I'd have stayed and clapped and shouted "Bravo!" instead of heading for the exit, pronto. Maybe I'm just becoming a grumpy old guy.

  3. It is funny you mention Eno. Someone remarked to me that the Adams reminded him of Eno.
    Do you think you would have minded the Adams less if it were shorter? I guess I am asking did you hate the piece the moment it started to when it ended or did did it start to get irritating as it got too long?

  4. Robert, indeed the Adam piece started off ok, and up to about 5 minutes it was nice As I watched the concert master treble-ing a minor trill, which gave me the heebie geebies / willies I decided, "I do not like this" (ie Mr.Horse, from Ren & Stimpy).

    Eno is fine on headphones. Eno and Fripp with David Byrne make some interesting music, bu again, not something a symphony should consider performing.


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