Eugene Weekly : Bravo! : 1.08.09

Bravo! 2009

Spit and Polish
Live! Real! Music!
by Suzi Steffen

Borodin Quartet Jan. 25 at Beall Hall
Mariza April 26 at the Hult

In the past year, I’ve heard wonderful, gorgeous music. I’ve watched brass players with their polished instruments record an album (Quadre’s Horns for the Holidays). I’ve downloaded Indian raga/jazz fusion from iTunes (Rudresh Manhanthappa’s Kinsmen). And, along with thousands of other Eugene-area people, I enjoyed each of the three audition concerts for Eugene Symphony music director candidates. The tremendous attendance, with each of the three free concerts “sold out,” demonstrated how much the Eugene community cares about live symphonic music; and the Symphony’s hiring committee did the right thing by choosing the most musically attuned of the three.

Like many of you, I love listening to music on my iPod, and I’m always glad when I can prepare for a concert by downloading one of the famous performances available on iTunes. I prefer recordings that don’t have static, that are balanced and mixed to musical near-perfection. But no CD, no album, no tape, no digital recording —  no matter how perfect the acoustics — can show listeners the same physical passion we see during live performances. Whether it’s a senior recital or the Borodin Quartet (Jan. 25) at the acoustically splendid Beall Hall; whether it’s current music director Giancarlo Guerrero leading the Symphony in the towering Mahler 5 (Jan. 22) or incoming music director Danail Rachev taking the podium in a guest appearance for the Grieg Piano Concerto (March 19); whether it’s UO profs Molly Barth and Brian McWhorter’s fabulous Beta Collide (Feb. 16), the Portland Baroque Orchestra (Feb. 22) or the Bach Fest’s special presentation of Angela Hewitt (March 3); whether the Oregon Mozart Players give us All Amadeus (Feb. 28/March 1) or the Hult shows off the mad fado skills of Mariza (April 26), this winter and spring promise shows that glory in ethereal sound made, emphatically, by humans in the flesh.

Some musicians rock back and forth; some sway (the Symphony’s principal flutist does both). Musicians tap their feet lightly to keep the beat during rehearsals and stamp their feet when conductors please them. Brass players empty spit during performances; oboe players suck on reeds to keep them wet; the string players perform various and constant adjustments to tuning. This is work, and hard work during certain pieces of music; the intensity and excitement roll out during the best performances and captivate the audience. So be captivated! From free concerts to the spendiest tickets at the Hult, there’s a price point, as marketing folk say, for every music lover out there as our dark nights slowly lighten.