Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

I have now seen this twice and I really like it. Jon and I saw it first and then I made my three oldest boys (ages 11, 13, and 14) study up on King Richard the Lionheart, King John, and Robin Hood, and then I took them to see it on Monday. It was fun to do some reading in advance of my second viewing. I learned some stuff! Hopefully the boys did, too.

I love the relationship between Robin and Marion. It's sweet and slow, a nice change from the usual Hollywood fare, even though the circumstances created in the script might have justified the usual quick leap into bed. (She's been without her husband for ten years! He's been fighting wars for ten years! And they're supposed to be acting like husband and wife!) Also, I like Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.

Grand Teton Music Festival: Pardon our French

  • Paul Dukas, Fanfare pour La Peri
  • Francis Poulenc, Sonata for Horn, Trumpet, and Trombone
  • Claude Debussy, Prelude No. 8, La fille aux cheveux lin
  • Maurice Ravel, Selections from, Ma mère l'oye
  • Darius Milhaud, La crèation du monde, Op. 81

This was the first of GTMF's free "Inside the Music" Tuesday concerts this summer. It was fabulous, of course. These events are hosted by the very funny Roger Oyster, principal trombonist of the Kansas City Symphony, who usually tells a little something about the composer and/or the piece. The concerts are about 75 minutes long and the music is generally varied and accessible.

I was especially eager to hear "La fille aux cheveux lin" ("The girl with the flaxen hair") because I've played it on the piano. I thought maybe they'd be playing an arrangement for a small group, but it was the original piano piece, and it was played beautifully by Deborah Moriarty. She was doing amazing stuff with the pedal that I've never even tried to do. I loved it.

My other favorite piece was Ma mère l'oye (Mother Goose). This was originally written as a piano duet and Ravel later orchestrated it. But this performance was an arrangement for string quartet and piano, and it was stunning. I'd like to find a recording somewhere, but I'm not sure where I'd find it. Might be worth learning the piano duet with my son, though it sounds hard.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Grand Teton Music Festival: open rehearsal, 2 July 2010

I took Phin and Lillian to the Jackson Hole Symphony's open rehearsal ($10 for adults, free for kids 6 to 18, or something like that) on Friday. Here's what they performed:

  • Tragic Overture, Op. 81, by Johannes Brahms
  • Violin Concerto by Alban Berg
  • Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven

They started by playing the National Anthem, because they would be playing it for the 4th of July, and then they went through each piece, only short-changing Beethoven's 5th towards the end, because they were running out of time. They would play through the entire piece and then go back to certain places in the piece at the direction of the director ('cause, you know, he directs). There was a guest violinist for the concerto (Akiko Suwanai, playing a 1714 Stradivarius called "Dolphin"), which was a 20th century piece, not super easy to listen to.

The rehearsal lasted about three hours, and this is what I learned:

  • I like Beethoven's 5th very much. Of course everyone is familiar with the beginning, but I don't think I'd ever listened to the whole thing, or if I have, I wasn't paying attention. Unfortunately, I think they skipped parts of it during the rehearsal.
  • It was too long for kids! Although Phin and Lillian did pretty well.
  • I loved watching the rehearsal--it's cool to watch and hear a group that actually listens to and responds to their director--but it's very different from watching a performance, and I felt kind of frustrated that I wouldn't be seeing the performance later that night.
  • But tickets are $52 for the weekend symphony performances. $10 for students, though! Which makes me want to send my kids in without me.

Grand Teton Music Festival has free events every Tuesday night for the duration of the festival (end of June to August 14), though, and my goal is to go to every one that I'm capable of attending. I'll blog about those, too.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A few mysteries I done read

In an earlier post, I speculated that maybe I was about to enter a Mystery phase, a phase I've never experienced before. So I gave it a go. I don't think it really took, but it was kind of fun.

The Cat Who Went Underground by Lilian Jackson Braun. These are well-known, but I'd never read one before. I liked the main character pretty well, but the cats were uninteresting. I'm not really a cat person, unless the cat is asking for a cheeseburger. (Don't be mad, cat-lovers! I'm not a dog person, either. Or a pet person. Or even a kid person, actually.) Also, does it always take so long to get to the mystery part?

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton. Another famous mystery writer. This was pretty good. There was plenty happening and the characters were fun. I liked it pretty well.

Deadly Décisions by Kathy Reichs. I love, love, love the TV show Bones, and since it's gone for the summer, I thought I'd try to get my fix this way, since the show is loosely based on Kathy Reichs and her books. (Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist who writes novels about a forensic anthropologist named Temperance Brennan, and Bones is about forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan who writes books about the fictional character Kathy Reichs! That's just the kind of silly, clever trick that I love.) There's not enough similarity between book and show to get me my fix, but I liked it pretty well and I might read more of them. I guess it might not technically qualify as a mystery.