I went to see and hear the Detroit Symphony Orchestra play the 1812 Overture, in the finale of their TchaikovskyFest. I took my sister, who had never been to see the DSO before. The program included the second symphony, a.k.a. the “Little Russian,” and two works for cello and orchestra, a nocturne and the Variations on a Rococo Theme.
The first 3/4ths of the program was fine, as fine as the DSO has been playing all season. Great playing, insightful interpretations, and many fun moments. The cellist, Narek Hakhnazaryan, was serious but had playful moments, interacting with the orchestra as they tossed the spotlight back and forth. Our ovations enticed him to give us an encore, which took a somber tone as he dedicated it to the memory of the 1.5 million lost in the Armenian genocide, 100 years ago this year. The piece, Lamentations by the Italian cellist and composer Giovanni Sollima, alternated dolorous held notes with sections of fierce, adventurous playing; it sounded very modern, and was obviously heartfelt. The audience gave him a bigger ovation after this than even before.
And then came the peak. I cannot be objective, for this very personal reason: The 1812 Overture is probably THE classical work introduced to us by my mother that affects me most deeply. She would turn it up as loud as it would go when she played it on the stereo. I haven’t been able to think of the piece in the last two weeks without tears. Fortunately, I know the piece so well I didn’t have to “study” it beforehand. From the opening notes of the mid-strings today, I was choking back sobs. It was hard work to not make a spectacle of myself. I believe they played it as well as they’ve done anything else I’ve heard them do, but I was so lost in the whole experience. It was, I have to say, the loudest I think they’ve ever played, but that was perfect. Gods, what an experience.
I’m very glad my sister was there. She was about as affected by the performance as I was. I only wish we could’ve taken Mom. I would have gladly paid for box seats.
An added pleasure: We saw jjfmi and his partner Sharon. They had seats right up front. That means they felt the cannons very well, I’m sure.
I think I’m done with symphony concerts for a while. Dave and I bought a four-pack on a special deal (this one was not part of that) and the next one is in late April. It’s Bruckner. I will have to study for that one.