Apr 2, 2003

Went to Boston Lyric last night to see the latest offering in their “Season of BonBons” or whatever its called, “La Rondine”. Much has been made of how weird an opera this is, and I have to say the prevailing wisdom is correct, there’s not much to sink your teeth into here. After Magda’s first act aria, which is pretty good, the only real catchy tune is the big production number at the end of the second act that sounds like its from “Cats”. Puccini either was out of ideas or just plain not trying. Most of the principal voices were good, though, so it wasn’t a total loss, but not something you’d seek out.

Ordered some more music the other night. I’m on a Poulenc kick lately, this past weekend that was most of what I played through, and there is still plenty left to get, so I went with the Improvisations this time. I’d like to get the Melancolie, which is on the Andre Previn Great Pianists CD, but it’s like $22 from Salabert, and it’s only 16 pages long, so I think we’ll save that for later. What I like about Poulenc is the variety of styles, the bluesy stuff like the first Nocturne, the wacky stuff like the four-hand sonata and the third movement of the Trois Pieces, his ability to come up with both kinds of tunes effortlessly. When Boston Music company was having their big sale a while back I got the Promenades, which are relatively early pieces but are surprisingly atonal, not typical at all, some of them virtually impossible to sight-read. Because I hung around with so many wind players in college I ended up playing a lot of Poulenc, the Oboe Sonata, the Trio, the Sextet, the Flute Sonata, all great stuff, so I think that helped precipitate my interest in Poulenc and that era of French music in general. And now that spring is in the air, you get that feeling of recital season nostalgia around this kind of music, so there’s that connection, too. There aren’t too many gaps in my standard rep collection, and Poulenc works well since most of it (Promenades not withstanding) isn’t too hard to read through. I don’t have much Prokofiev either, but I’m not in as big a rush to tackle that yet.

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