Jan 28 2008

Adios to Spain

Published by at 6:23 pm under PSO 2008 European Tour

concert poster

concert poster

Jose Maria Pratt is the man in charge of Ibercamera, the presenting agency that brought the Pittsburgh to Spain. He’s been organizing concerts for the agency for thirty years. After the final concert in Valencia, he told me he was delighted with the Pittsburgh Symphony. There’s a very convivial atmosphere at a small reception with conductor Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Concertmaster Andres Cardenes and friends. A photographer shot a group photo. Jose praised the Orchestra and Maestro Fruhbeck.

During intermission in Valencia, Fruhbeck agreed to an interview. He told me that he enjoyed the tour very much and found it completely successful. He said only one of the halls disappointed him a little, because of its harsh string sound.

Jim interviews Fruhbeck

Jim interviews Fruhbeck

He confessed he had never been in Castellon in his life. He explained exactly where his home town Burgos was, mentioned how nice it was to see his daughter and son along the way, and said the most important concerts on the tour were in the big cities of Barcelona and Madrid.

Paella

Paella


After the concert, Bassoonist David Sogg invited me to join a group heading to Azahar for the Valencian specialty paella. It was invented here in Valencia, with its coastal location and easy availability of seafood to put in to the huge wide pans. The true Valencian paella is a mixture of rice, chicken and rabbit. Rabbit doesn’t thrill me, so I went for the langosta paella which features lobster. When I get back, I’ll have to try Mallorca for dinner on Carson Street. Someone in the orchestra told me the tapas are very good at Bossa Nova, right across from QED’s Carolyn M. Byham Studio, but watch out for the Friday and Saturday night crowds. Now we have tapas — the little bites or plates in several spots around town including Shadyside. Let me know your favorite. It certainly seems like a sensible way to eat and control your portion size. Plus, you get to see your selection before it arrives at the table. You can comment on this blog or anything on your mind at morningshow@wqed.org.

Sunday was Principal Harp Gretchen van Hoesen’s birthday. Her husband, Co-Principal Oboe Jim Gorton, lead a beautiful toast to his Gretchen including his thought that everything she touches turns to gold, as evidenced by her students. Gretchen and Jim are long time listeners to WQED-FM.

So is Principal Oboe Cynthia Koledo de Almeida, who told me she has been concerned about her Mom, who recently had surgery, but that Mom is doing well now. Her brother is in Baghdad in the military till July. He was able to call Mom in the hospital to check on her.

I enjoyed meeting David Sogg’s Dad, Richard, again. He is an opthalmologist in San Francisco and a pianist who recorded on the Gibson Capital management Steinway in WQED’s Oakland studio. His friend, Patricia Stroh, is the curator of the Center for Beethoven studies at San Jose State University. She told me Ira Brilliant donated his large collection of Beethoven materials to San Jose, including the lock of hair which made headlines a few years ago when its lead content was analyzed, suggesting lead may have been a factor in Beethoven’s death.

Click to listen

Click to listen

MP3 Audio of Patricia Stroh

Cyril Wecht told us then that he is certain Beethoven had lead poisoning. Patricia also told me it’s true that Beethoven moved between thirty and fifty times in Vienna. No one has a totally accurate account of all the cleaning ladies and landlords he offended. It was a small disappointment that two of the Spanish presenters of concerts insisted on Brahms instead of Beethoven, but Patricia said she loved the Pittsburgh Symphony’s Brahms. Jim Gorton asked her about the Beethoven Oboe Concerto, which had been available in sketches for years. Only in 2003 was it finally recorded, thanks to a plausible reconstruction by Dutch musicologist Jos Van der Zanden. The Pittsburgh Symphony is scheduling a performance of the Oboe Concerto in a few seasons.

Back in the room, I struggled mightily with the wireless Internet service. Only with the help of the front desk was I able to connect. My friend at the desk, who spoke the best English by a Spaniard on the tour, brought a booster to pick up the signal. He told me was born in Mexico, but his Dad moved to Kentucky when he was a kid, so he learned English well.

Spanish Classical radio was broadcasting a Wagner opera and strangely was still broadcasting a Wagner opera when I woke up. Meistersinger, I think, at bedtime and Tristan in the morning. In Madrid, I enjoyed listening to a Latino station of salsa music, and I noticed a dance music station which seemed to never announce the music. Hour after hour, I never heard a station ID. Earlier I mentioned Radio Classica, the national network which I loved listening to. I also heard the more traditional “morning zoo” format with several DJs talking at once and taking phone calls from listeners intermixed with pop music and Spanish hits.

Jim at Palau

Jim at Palau

The Palau de la Musica in Valencia was packed. I couldn’t see an empty seat. Big lobbies with palm trees and bars. The concert hall is named for the Spanish pianist Jose Iturbi. Marc Minkowski and the Musicians of the Louvre were here last week. This is the home of the Valencia Orchestra. Marek Janowski brings his Berlin Radio Orchestra in the Spring. Cecila Bartoli and the Basel Chamber Orchestra will be here, as will the Bruckner Orchestra of Linz and Dennis Russell Davies. The nice lady sitting next to me couldn’t speak a word of English, but with my limited Spanish she was able to convey how much she enjoyed the concert at the end of the evening — Magnifico!


Palau lobby

Palau lobby

Sala Iturbi

Sala Iturbi

Our flight to Amsterdam was delayed be several hours, moving back the arrival time to 4:30 pm. More familiar weather here– -in the 40s withgray overcast skies. As soon as I arrived in my room, I tuned in Radio 4 from the Netherlands playing Richard Strauss’ Ein Heldenleben. The announcer murmured something in Dutch about Mariss Jansons, former Music Director of the PSO and now Chief Conductor of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, who’s now in the States on tour with his Bavarian Radio Orchestra. I’m sorry to report lots of people have colds, and a handful have had stomach bugs. I see Andres Cardenes is moving, but not feeling well, and he’s not the only one.

I haven’t said enough about the City of Arts and Sciences and how eye popping it is. George Vosburgh said his family loved the Sea World-like show with dolphins dancing as choreographed as The Rockettes. To see architect Santiago Calatrava’s work, we need to drive to the new art museum in Milwaukee with its roof that opens. Hey, didn’t we have a grand public space with a roof that opens?

Jim in Valencia

Jim in Valencia

Valencia Architecture

Valencia Architecture