You've been waiting for this. Don't deny it. We're all well aware of your predilection for pimento loaf and that you've been counting off the days until the Annual Processed Meat Ball & Buffet this Sunday. But be aware that should you attend this gala event, not only will you consume more than your allotment of FDA approved nitrates but you will miss the Fort Wayne Philharmonic performing some dandy music at the First Presbyterian Church as part of the Stained Glass Series. Attendees will be thrilled by the music of 18th century composer Tomaso Albinoni (rhymes with bologna if you pronounce it "ba-lo-nee" instead of "mu-cil-age"), specifically his Adagio for Organ and Strings which incidentally will be played on an organ and stringed instruments. I hope the irony doesn't escape you. If you stick around long enough, you will also hear Gabriel Faure's Requiem, one of the great requiems of the 19th century. Unlike the other heavyweight contenders, Faure's Requiem actually sounds, well, churchy, which is fair considering that he wrote the music to reassure and comfort the faithful in the face of death. Did I mention that a requiem is a song for the dead? Yes indeedy! You can petition the counsel but I doubt they will admit Black Sabbath's first album as a requiem, but go ahead and try.
February 24 marks the one year anniversary of the time I saw a drunken Elvis impersonator beating up a gaggle of mimes. Ah, those were good times. If you don't wish to attend the reenactment you can always head straight for Chester's house. Chester will heat up a can of condensed soup (most likely cream of sausage) and then take you to the Embassy for a Masterworks performance, including two pieces by Richard Strauss. Der Rosenkavalier: Suite is a medley of melodies from his opera by the same name which itself is a Mozartian comedy set in 18th century Vienna, a location long associated with comedy. The music of this piece is a combination of humor, high farce, and deep sentiment, just like a Stooges film. The main draw for that evening will be Johannes Brahms' second piano concerto. Just to refresh your memory, Brahms lived in the middle to late 1800s, was a gruff, bearded fellow that looked very much like a groundhog, and grew up playing the piano for prostitutes (mostly "Free Bird" but he took requests). His second piano concerto is an immensely powerful work of epic proportions and one of this writer's personal favorites. In a concerto, a solo instrument is pitted against the orchestra in a bloody battle to the death. For this performance the part of the piano will be played by Emmanuel Ax, celebrated WWF villain and internationally-renown pianist. This match will be quite a challenge for him due to the great technical demands of the piano part. Let's hope the woodwinds play fair this time and don't start throwing their reeds. Most concertos have three movements but if you pay by credit card, Brahms will throw in an extra movement absolutely free!
Even though February is a short month, there is even more classical music to massage your lymph nodes. On the 28th (with a repeat performance on March 4) is the next performance in the Freimann Series. Included will be the Duettino Concertante by Dahl (though not Roald Dahl, the fellow who wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though I understand that the two once shared a viral infection). Saint-Saens (pronounced "suh-sahns" in a priggish French accent) will be weighing in with a fantastic piece for the harp and violin, appropriately titled Fantasy for Harp and Violin and Wax-Paper Comb. The evening will cap off with Shostakovich's third string quartet, a mighty fine piece. During his career as a fish monger, Shosty wrote fifteen symphonies, fifteen string quartets, and fifteen bad checks (insert rim-shot here). Each of these string quartets displays an amazing understanding of the interrelationships of the instruments. In this episode, the viola is sleeping with the cello behind the back of the first violin, fathering the second violin who grows up to be a closet brass instrument.
Because space is limited, I won't recommend a CD this time around. Instead, me and my hired goons strongly "suggest" you visit the Classical MIDI Archive at www.prs.net where at the time of this writing, they had 11,201 Midi files covering pieces by 863 composers and two mollusks. Just download these small files onto your computer and you'll be able to spend countless hours enjoying free classical music while sitting on your bidet eating pimento loaf.
Copyright 2001 Jason Hoffman