Confession time: I’m a lover of symphonic music…was even a spokesman for an 80-piece North Texas orchestra at one time. But I am no music critic. Try as I might to concentrate on the brilliant cellist Douglas Harvey at Friday night’s performance, I . . .well (gulp) got lost in the somewhat overwhelming spectacle of an evening with the entire ASO . . . in the fabulous Michael and Susan Dell Hall . . . from a fantastic orchestra seat . . . immersed in wonderful acoustics.
Oh, sure, I love the playfulness of Paul Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and appreciate even more the non-splintered version. (Sorry, Walt. Sorry, Mickey.) However, the cartoon still running in my mind’s eye distracted me.
And as the symphony beautifully rendered the “Fantasy-Overture” from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, a radio-TV spokesman intoning, “You can own the world’s most beautiful music” – yeah, I bought the entire set – was stuck like a broken record in my head. The orchestra played with passion while my memory visually recounted all the plays and films or “R&J” I’d attended in the past 45 years.
Intermission gave me a chance to study the generally well-heeled audience, which had been highly reverential and observant of all the symphony rituals: ardent applause for renowned conductor Peter Bay; shouted “Bravos! in just the right places and at the end of the program, a unanimous “standing O” that repeatedly brought Bay and Harvey back to center stage.
“Don Quixote: Fantastic Variations on a Knightly Theme, Opus 35,” rounded out the evening fare, and with my careful review of the program notes and an above-stage A-V program noting the storyline, it was much easier to match the interplay of various instruments with the crazy old knight’s adventures.
Even the three, often restless young kids in front of me seemed less sleepy and more attentive.
Still, with my having seen the musical “Man of La Mancha” in Georgetown and Fredericksburg in the past six months, my old bean kept envisioning the stage action, not the musically-accentuated story.
Harvey wonderfully captured the chivalrous rhythms of the 112-year-old composition . . . but, honestly, I wasn’t really focused on his virtuoso talent until after the 10 variations. But as the applause faced, I realized, I had truly enjoyed the full symphonic experience. I had been: transported in many ways beyond the great hall and program to the end of a long work week that only demanded slumber but delivered an absorbing, waking, musical experience.