On Friday, we had a chance to hear Kurt Masur conduct Sofia Gubaidulina’s "The Light of the End" and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. Regarding the Gubaidulina, I found that I didn’t quite get into the general writing with mostly a singular line being moved around the orchestra with ostinatos being performed, and things which I thought were supposed to be somewhat dramatic felt flat to me (i.e. loud stabs of brass). There were certainly some brilliant moments, of which I found myself really quite involved (the passage near the end with the tuba, cello, and horn was quite excellent). Throughout the piece I kept thinking of Bartok’s "Duke Bluebeard’s Castle" and Bartok in general, and perhaps that interfered with listening to what was there. It may have been that my own taste lately has been for music with more individual parts, or that the piece was simply new to me, but overall I didn’t find myself that into the piece. I would like to hear the piece again in the future though to see what my impressions would be on a second listen. I do have to say, it really was neat that Gubaidulina was in attendance, and I still have the utmost respect for her and her work.
As for the Bruckner, I had not heard the 4th in quite some time and never live. Quite a bold piece! The symphony really did play out with great effect, but I found that the timing of the more fragile exposed sections were problematic. Granted, the offset in the parts are a bit tricky to keep in time, but I think my expectations were quite high, especially since the bolder sections were done so well. Sitting behind the orchestra in the center terrace afforded a great view of the conductor and I felt that during the more fragile sections that Masur could have done more to keep the timing more precise. If it weren’t for these sections slightly tugging at themselves in time, I think it would have been a phenomenal performance. I think it is my own deep concern for time that makes me a bit sensitive to these things, but it really did stick out to my ear.
Regardless, I was glad to once again be at the symphony listening to the orchestra. I think it would be nice to attend the symphony as much as possible before we move later this year.