Monday, May 16, 2011

A Musical Feast

As my longtime blog readers may recall, M and J don't get out much together because they worry about what sorts of things I'll relocate while they're away. And when they do go somewhere without me, I'm pretty sure it's because they figure the expected rewards outweigh the risks.

Yesterday this was very much the case. They were gone a long time, and when they returned home they were raving about what a great time they'd had. M said they'd been to Daytona Beach and that this was the reason for their trip:

"You went there to get a magazine about some dude with a fiddle?" I asked.

"Not even close, Bud!" he said. "We went to a concert at the Peabody Auditorium: Joshua Bell appearing with the Orlando Philharmonic. And it was outstanding. And by the way, don't call Bell's instrument a fiddle. It's a violin."

I wasn't too convinced about the distinction. "It looks like the same thing Alison Krauss plays, but I'm pretty sure she calls hers a fiddle. What's the difference?"

"Not much," he admitted upon reflection. "I think the main thing is that a violin has strings, and a fiddle has strangs! But this isn't just any violin, either."

He went on to explain that Bell's violin is a 298-year-old instrument called "the Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius," which he plays using a late-eighteenth-century bow. M and J both said they'd never heard anything like it.

The concert opened with the overture from Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville. Then Joshua Bell brought down the house with Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D major. M said that at the end of the first movement, the audience threw concert etiquette right out the window and gave Bell a long standing ovation. This was followed by an even longer one at the end of the piece. The only reason he didn't get one after the second movement was because it flows right into the third. Bell took three curtain calls, but didn't play an encore because he had to leave to get to a concert last night in New York. (Plus, M said, both Bell and the orchestra were probably worn out.) After intermission, the orchestra played Sibelius's Symphony No. 1 in E minor.

For a taste of M and J's musical feast, here's a video clip of  Bell playing the concerto's finale with some unidentified orchestra. (If you'd rather view it at YouTube, go here.)

I'm glad my peeps had such a wonderful time without me. Truth be told, I needed an afternoon off. And I'm pleased to report that I helped them all I could by not moving a single thing!

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