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Barcelona, at Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

The music season is nearly over, which means that it's time to order tickets for next year. Last year, owing to the general unsteadiness of domestic affairs (Kathleen was looking for a new job), I didn't get round to ordering tickets until the fall, and so I didn't get everything that I wanted, and when I did get tickets, they weren't always the good seats that I prefer. I aim to do better this year; why, only yesterday, I renewed our Orpheus at Carnegie subscription. We've had seats T1 and T3 in the "prime parquet" - the orchestra - for years, except for two seasons when we were exiled to T5 and T7, as a penalty for having renewed very late. I'd like to move up a few rows, but I think that some sort of charitable donation will be required. T is fine, though, and we're on the left-hand side of the auditorium, which is always very important, as you can't see a pianist's hands if you're sitting on the right side.

My system, as it were, is to start with what I most want to hear and work my way down the list. I like to have one evening in Avery Fisher Hall - that's enough. I'm very fond of Zankel Hall; this past season, I attended baroque concerts there; next year, I'll be looking for something different. And then there's the Met, which has the advantage of being in the neighborhood. If there's something compelling at City Opera, I'll get a pair of tickets. I've only been to Alice Tully Hall once in my life, or maybe twice. It ought to be clear from this that, while I like to hear music in concert or recital, I don't want to do so too often, because overexposure is a terrible danger. I want every concert to be special in some way - special for me - and by and large that's what they are.

Ordering tickets last season, I decided that it was time to encounter the Jordi Savall phenomenon. Mr Savall is a Catalonian viola da gambist, which means he plays a cello-like instrument (only slightly smaller) that he supports on his legs. Most Europeans abandoned the instrument in the Seventeenth Century, but the French remained attached to it well into the following century. Mr Savall sometimes brings his early-music ensemble, Hesperion XXI, to town when he comes, but this year his brought only two colleagues, under the banner "Barcelona." I got a pair of tickets to the second of his two concerts at the Met, which finally came round the week before last.

Kathleen, busy as ever, was in no mood for a concert, but she decided to go anyway, just for the sane-making break; she has learned, moreover, that I don't get tickets for her if I doubt that she'd really enjoy the evening. (For this reason, I enjoy a lot of German chamber music by myself.) And she really did enjoy the evening - more than I did, in fact. I'm not sure why. I could tell that something quietly extraordinary was happening on stage, but I couldn't feel it. I'd love to say that I'm open to a wide variety of musical experiences, but it wouldn't be true. When I don't get something, though, I just leave it. There is no point in trying to figure out why you don't get something - because you don't get it! You might as well ask why you don't find a given popular movie star truly attractive. There's nothing wrong with the star and there's nothing wrong with you. Everybody can't like everything. I'm hammering at this because it's so obvious, and yet so hard to learn, and to accept.  

Barcelona, at Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium.


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