Friday, July 22, 2011

Ravinia & Rachmaninoff

Last night Jim and I joined his sister Kathy and her husband at Ravinia. There were three pieces by Rachmaninoff: The Bells, Vesna, and Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini. Each had a chorus as part of the full orchestra. The first two included solo vocalists, and the final piece was led by Alexander Romanovsky, a very talented pianist. 

Of course, it was a sweltering night, but I was able to forget about it while the music was going. It was very nice to go back to the Ravinia venue, which I had not been to in twenty years or more. In fact, this is only my second time there. The pavilion seating is surrounded by a lawn with sculpture and tall trees, where extremely well equipped people camp out and listen to the music. They brought chairs, tables, china, wineglasses, candles, cookers, vases with was a bit like a gypsy camp really.

Romanovsky was amazing. Really fantastic command of the keyboard. The video screens on either side of the stage sometimes had a shot from above showing his hands moving up and down the keyboard in these forearm-cramping arpeggios and all the wrist and hand flourishes one probably expects from an ace pianist.  However, I have to say I wasn't really taken by Rachmaninoff as a composer. The compositions were pretty bombastic, and the piano piece got too carried away with the pyrotechnics for my taste.

Hopefully it won't be another twenty years before I go again and maybe it'll be better weather!  Even with the heat though, it was fantastic to be outside and able to hear the crickets and feel a breeze while listening to music. Great ambiance!

No comments: