Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grand Piano, Go Bears

Tonight, piano was played in the Grand style by Yefim Bronfman at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. I have not heard a program of Brahms, Liszt, and Prokofiev played like this in many many years. Brahms' f minor Sonata and a selection of Liszt's 3 Transcendental Etudes provided a platform for Bronfman to show the broad range and stamina he has. His technique is incredible, his voicing poetic, and his strength is especially evident in the gossamer passages. The second half of the program was Prokofiev's 8th Sonata. Bronfman tossed out a few Chopin etude encores to the standing audience. Pity that the hall was not full - this is a reflection of the business of classical music and dwindling audience base, which is further diminished by the difficult economy. It was a privilege to hear Bronfman.

I emerged from the hall and saw a crowd of blue and gold striped rugby shirts, the flash of tuba bells, and trumpets waving side to side. Hands clapped overhead in unison and the band sudddenly broke into Dave Mathews' "ants marching". Saxophones ran around the building, cheerleaders danced, and the striped shirts cheered and danced. How can a body stand still with all that going on? The Cal Marching Band played a few more songs, then closed with the Cal Song as flag bearers on the student union balcony waved big Cal flags in dramatic swoops. The band wandered off as they sang their closing song, occasionally punctuating the song with phrases played on their trumpets, clarinets, or drums. The tuba choir started to play together - the standard oompa bass with a tune above it - I've always associated tubas with musical elephants. Brass sounds good.

The evening was warm and the moon was full. It was late but the night felt young. It was all good.

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