Mar. 21st, 2017

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I couldn't resist Shostakovich's Fifth performed by the same orchestra (though not, obviously, the same individual musicians) that gave the first performance nearly 80 years ago. (And to think the work was a mere stripling of 35 when I first heard it.)

The most notable aspects of this performance were the richness of the inner string sound in the slow sections, and the sheer vehemence, especially in the percussion, of the loud climaxes. Not so much the scherzo, which was light and witty, in violation of the current fashion for treating all Shostakovich scherzi as portraits in terror of Stalin; but the climax of the first movement and the entire finale were drastically enhanced. Even the slow wandering section in the middle of the finale seethed with looming menace.

But what I most appreciated were little touches of superb ensemble, such as the absolutely perfect meshing of celesta and harp in the final bars of the slow movement.

The other work on the program was Brahms' First Piano Concerto, a heavy warhorse of a different color. Garrick Ohlsson was the soloist, and as there's no pianist more capable of a light, silvery touch than he, it was quite a surprise in a hefty, dramatic Brahms concerto. But Ohlsson can pound it out with the best, too.

No surprise that it was conducted by Yuri Temirkanov, who's been leading this outfit since Mravinsky died some three decades past. Yes, I know. It's hard to keep track of famous Russian conductors making fools of themselves offstage, but Temirkanov is not the one who's cozying up to Putin, nor the one who thinks women are not properly suited to be conductors. He's the other one who thinks women are not properly suited to be conductors. Yes, there's two of these idiots.

It's self-evidently true that a lot of women can conduct just fine. But so can Temirkanov. He and his band gave a good show up in sopping wet San Francisco.

statistic

Mar. 21st, 2017 10:36 pm
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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is from Montana. He is, if my statistics are correct, the first US cabinet officer ever from Montana. (FDR was going to have one, but he died just before taking office.)

My statistics also say that this marks 48 states that have provided cabinet officers. The two states bereft of cabinet representation throughout US history are South Dakota (Obama was going to have one, but he had to withdraw) and Nevada.

He is also the first US cabinet officer to begin with a Z, thus completing that set except for Q and X.

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