Saturday, February 09, 2008

Shanghaied to Classical Kennedy

Supposed to go to the CNY party of the good friend of GF's mom tonight. For some reason, she knew about me, and wanted me to come along. Funny how things work out. On my way to GF's house, I passed by Meryla to drop off a colleague's Magic Sing. They're gonna need it for a party tonight - one in which I'm not invited to. Then I got an SMS from GF saying that her mom's at Westfield and since I'm around maybe I can give her a lift. Turns out I misread the SMS - it's the sister, not the mom. A lot less brownie points, but brownie points nonetheless. :-)
So we go over to the host's place and exchange pleasantries with the guests. Ten minutes into the party, GF tells me it's time to leave. She's bringing me to a secret location as part of her Valentine surprise for me. Before we left, GF's mom mentioned about a concert. There goes the secret, but I guessed as much - the date and time, the smart casual attire, the questions, etc. Apparently, those Classical Kennedy concert tickets caused GF a great deal of stress and cost a great deal of money to procure, as the 2-day concert sold out pretty fast. Anyway, there's more stress to come as GF can't find any parking at the Opera House. Strangely, every parking place around Circular Quay is either closed or full on this Saturday night. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that it's only minutes away from start of the concert. Fortunately, we found a parking operator which is open. Down, down, down we descended to basement level 99. Unfortunately, all the slots have been taken, says the parking attendant. Fortunately, there was no one behind us, so we were able to back up and go up, up, up, and out. Thinking worst-case, we doubled back and parked at QVB, then took a bus to Circular Quay. From there, power-walked to the Opera House. Praise the Sydney Symphony for starting the concert 5 minutes late.

Official concert programme below:
Mozart - Violin Concerto No.4 in D, K218 (24 minutes)

  • Alegro
  • Andante Cantabile
  • Rondo
Intermission (20 minutes)
Beethoven - Violin Concerto (40 minutes)
  • Allegro ma non troppo
  • Larghetto
  • Rondo

As with last year, thunderous applause from the audience when Nigel Kennedy walked onto the stage. A few jokes and friendly banter with the orchestra members later, he started off the concert with Bach's Partita No. 3. I guess he's trying to show off by playing the piece super-fast, but the guy definitely has the right to do so. Despite the frenetic pace, the individual notes are sharp and accurate. GF commented that it's like hearing two violins being played simultaneously. I actually had to catch my breath when the piece ended. It was that good.

Comparing Mozart's and Beethoven's violin concertos, I would prefer Mozart's more. Beethoven's work is just too long and too repetitive for my liking. Lots of times you can sense that it's about to finish, yet the orchestra would pick up and continue on and on. At one point, I almost dropped off to sleep, to GF's bemusement. For the encore, Nigel played Bartok's Duo for Two Violins Nos. 17, 38, and 35, together with concertmaster Dene Olding. He also played his own version of Monti's Czardas. As he is wont to do in many of his concerts, for the finale he played his version of Jimi Hendrix' Purple Haze with the orchestra providing the beat. During the interlude, he walked off the stage and chatted up some members of the front row audience. Seeing an empty seat near our area, he came up and took the seat. All this while still playing on his violin. The concert finished with Nigel and the orchestra walking off the stage while playing the last few seconds of the piece. I reckon that's always a good way to (really) end the concert, or else people will always clap and ask for more.

Had some pancakes at the 24-hour City Extra before driving back to GF's place. It was pretty late by the time I headed for home. Even got breath-tested by the mobile patrol. Fortunately, GF didn't drink that night, or else I'll be in big trouble.

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