Last Monday, I went to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Hamer Hall. The evening's event was called Latin Fire, and there were a few noteworthy pieces being played:
Bernstein - West Side Story – Symphonic Dances
Ravel - Bolero
Rodrigo - Concierto de Aranjuez
The last Spanish concierto featured the guitar soloist, Slava Grigoryan.
Rodrigo's concierto has always been a favourite of mine, so when I spotted the advert for this performance, I didn't hesitate. It had long been an ambition of mine to see a live performance of the concert that always mentally transports me to Spain, surrounded by its historical Moorish influences.
Whenever I hear it playing, the second movement in particular, I imagine myself in the Alhambra in Granada, or walking through the cobble-stoned streets of Cordoba, stopping to admire the infamous red and white arches of the mezquita, built by Islamic architects in the 8th century.
For some reason, I always associate different pieces of music with a variety of places and locales, real or imagined. I can't help it.
In the case of Rodrigo's concierto, I picture two places in Spain that had the most impact on me when I visited them. I think they had such a profound effect on me because they represent a combination of the two cultures that I derive from - the Arabs and the Spaniards. I felt completely at peace when I visited them - almost like I returned home... to a home I had never known. I found myself in awe of the amount of history that resided in those places.
Upon leaving them, I swore that I would do my utmost to return to them one day. Perhaps I would even be fortunate enough to reside in these magnificent Spanish cities for a period of time?
Slava Grigoryan has always amazed me as a guitarist. He possesses a true gift and a talent that must surely be the envy of many others. The prospect of seeing him playing Rodrigo was truly exciting, and he did not disappoint. In fact, his interpretation of the music moved me beyond words. I found tears silently rolling down my cheeks as I was enraptured by the experience.
Concierto de Aranjuez was the musical highlight of my evening. The other two pieces of music played by the MSO were just a bonus.
Bernstein's West Side Story Symphonic Dances were thoroughly enjoyable. I have never been a huge fan of the musical genre. I can take them or leave them most of the time. However, West Side Story is an exception. I don't watch the film, starring Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno, often, but when I do, I cry at the end every time. I'm not even a hopeless romantic - I've become too cynical as time goes on for that. But the last scene, where Tony dies in Maria's arms? It gets me every time! I am always reduced to a blubbering mess.
I think this reaction is reinforced by the passion expressed in Bernstein's music throughout West Side Story. I'm sure it's not everyone's cup of tea, but it seems to be a soft spot of mine. Can't explain it.
Finally, Ravel's Bolero. A highly repetitive piece, but it works. Everyone has heard it before. It was made famous by Torvill and Dean in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Or perhaps people have a chuckle whilst remembering it from the "sex scene" in the movie, 10, starring Dudley Moore and Bo Derek? I can't keep a straight face if I picture that scene whilst listening to the Bolero. I thought it best to cast that imagery to the back of my mind whilst I enjoyed the MSO's performance of Ravel's infamous piece. I did not want to be ejected from the concert hall for being an immature. giggling member of the audience that was unable to enjoy a slice of musical culture that feeds the soul.
Well, there you have it... a moving experience... For me, listening to our beloved Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on a Monday night in the Victorian Arts Centre district is quite a memorable event. And it's not even motorcycle-related... amazing! ;)