Monday, September 05, 2005

Concert & celebration

What a delight to catch the 30th anniversary of Gretna Music and their 2005 Summer Season finale.
Labor Day weekend had the place very full, we got a pretty good parking place - the drive out was pleasant, about a 45 minute jaunt from Hbg. Coming back it was especially cool to see the Hershey Planetarium lit up. ( I just spent 1/2 hour looking for a link about it, with no luck. Trust me, it is a highly cool sight! Just no sites, hehehe)
So back to the concert...a fairly standard performance of Mozart's Flute Quartet in D major. I played it with friends in Wichita years back - perhaps one of Mozart's great slow movements, with the flute taking the melody and the strings merely plucking the entire way. The flutist was the founder, and I admired that he did really well - his day job is as a surgeon.
The next work, Beethoven's Ghost Trio, probably should have been last on the program - more on that in a bit. Anna Polonsky really led the group and the Audubon's second violinist played really well, as did the cellist, Clyde Shaw. I knew recordings of the Audubon, and this was my first time to hear them live. Good musicians, honest interpretations, and nice showmanship. Anna, played the keyboard perhaps better than she looked, which is a hard task, she is as beautiful as Beethoven's music.
The intermission featured myself, Dick Strawser and Cary Burkett in a MetOpera style quizshow. It was a total blast, with help from the audience and gags from us. We didn't know any of the questions in advance - honestly! Since it was the first time for me at Gretna (btw, the playhouse reminds me of a miniature Brevard or Aspen Music Festival setting - an outdoorsy wood hall open on all the sides - I guess the original playhouse was destroyed by snow one winter - I like this one.) no surprise that the only question I got "wrong" was one about the Gretna Music festival. It was fun.

After intermission, the entire quartet (leader Ellen Jewett locked herself out of the dressing room before we started the quiz at intermission- there was a joke about me getting into a violinist's dressing room, but I won't repeat it here, hahahaha) was joined by Anna Polonsky (have I mentioned that she was stunning, musically and in her red top? And her accent!)

for Giovanni Sgambati's Piano Quintet #2. This is a long, romantic work that meanders and wanders musically. It's pretty, but nothing of substance exists. I understand that the Quartet has appeared often, and that they probably have done the Brahms, Schumann, Shostakovich, et al Quintets many times. So I totally understand programming a different work - I had never heard this work. And really, they played it better than the music deserved. So I really think musically the Beethoven is such a great piece, that the program should have been Mozart, Sgambati and then the Beethoven. But the audience loved it - there was quite a crowd - great to see!
And the players did a great job with mediocre music.
As I told several folks, it was my first time to Mt Gretna, but certainly not my last!
It was nice meeting some of the musicians, WITF listeners, and Mt Gretna staff afterwards. Their winter season starts in October in Elizabethtown.
All in all a wonderful evening.

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