Sunday, January 07, 2018

New York Philharmonic – Jeffrey Kahane, conductor/piano; Alisa Weilerstein, cello. January 5, 2018.

David Geffen Hall.  Orchestra (Seat M106, $58.)

Piano Concerto No. 17 in G major, K. 453 (1784) by Mozart (1756-91).
Variations on a Rococo Theme, for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33 (1876-77) by Tchaikovsky (1840-93).
Symphony No. 98 in B-flat major, Ho. I:98  (1792) by Haydn (1732-1809).

This was a delightful concert.  The programmed pieces made sure of that, with easy-listening Mozart concerto and Haydn Symphony.

To me most of Mozart’s music are delightful, and most have been commented on extensively throughout the years.  Every now and then I would learn and remember something interesting, such as how he meshed four or five themes together in the Jupiter Symphony.  For this program the commentator in a sidebar “Listen for … the Starling’s Song” talks about Mozart’s pet starling which was taught to whistle the tune used in the last movement.  I didn’t know people kept starlings as pets, and that they could be taught particular tunes.  The main body of the commentary was more on the history of the symphony than on the music.  Which is fine with me.  The other aspect was that the cadenzas played today are “unquestionably by the composer.”

Kahane was both the conductor and soloist.  For this orchestra probably no conducting was necessary; and, as I have said before, this arrangement loses the true give-and-take between the piano and orchestra.  For a live performance the arrangement is such that the audience sees only the back of the pianist.  Nonetheless, it was a good (can’t tell good from excellent, remember?) and delightful performance.  The movements are allegro, andante, and allegretto – Finale: Presto.

Curtain call after performance of Mozart's Concerto.

We heard the Rococo Variations in October last year at a New Jersey Symphony concert.  Today’s was no less delightful a performance.  Seated close to the stage, it was easier to appreciate the technical difficulties presented by the piece.  Weilerstein made this crowd-pleasing piece look easy.  I do hope she has a heavy coat, just looking at her dress made me feel cold.

Alisa Weilerstein after playing Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations.

Haydn’s 98th Symphony was the last of his first group of London Symphonies.  Many of the 12 London Symphonies have nicknames: Surprise, Military, Clock, Drumroll (per Playbill), I would agree with the commentator that this one takes a back seat to none.  Indeed its freshness of this symphony made it an enjoyable experience.  The one interesting fact alluded in the Playbill was Haydn’s musical signature, performed at the fortepiano.  Kahane was again the solist/pianist. The Pianoforte didn’t get a lot of airtime, mostly providing a continuo role.  The signature towards the end, however, was unmistakable.  Haydn himself played the 11-measure passage at its premiere.  The four movements of the Symphony are Adagio – Allegro; Adagio cantabile; Minuetto – Trio; and Finale: Presto.

The Fortepiano was used in Haydn't 98th Symphony.  It sounded more like an harpsichord than I remember.

The New YorkTimes review is mixed: praising the performances, panning (a bit) the programming. He also mentioned Kahane did less continuo for the Haydn than he would expect (or would have liked.) Weilerstein was wearing the same dress on Thursday; some performers I know change during the same concert!  Evidently she first performed this at age 13 with the Cleveland Orchestra.  The article didn’t talk about attendance at an evening where traffic had to be very bad.  For today’s 11 am concert, the hall was quite full.

Yesterday (Jan 4) saw the area hit with between 8” to a foot of snow, so our initial thoughts were to either skip this concert or take public transportation.  We decided to drive in and park in one of the nearby garages.  Turns out okay as traffic was very light as the cold spell we have (since December 26 the temperature has not reached freezing, and may break tomorrow Monday Jan 8) probably kept a lot of people off the roads.  We ate something simple at Panera Bread before heading home.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New York String Orchestra – Jamie Laredo, conductor; Richard Goode, piano. December 28, 2017.

Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall.  Parquet Mid (Seat N5, $25).

Elegia Andina (2000) by Frank (b. 1972).
Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466 (1785) by Mozart (1756-1791).
Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56, “Scottish” (1842) by Mendelssohn (1809-1847).

The tickets were bought at a discount on Cyber Monday.  I didn’t know anything about the NYSO, but thought I couldn’t go wrong with Laredo and Goode.

Tonight turned out to be a rather interesting experience.  Turns out NYSO is a 70 or person ensemble consisting of high school and college students, they come together for an intensive 10-day practice period and put out this concert as a result.  This current group range in age from 16 to 23, coming (mostly) from North America, Asia, and Central and South America.

There are quite a few woodwind and percussion members in the ensemble, so I wonder if they should drop the “string” in their name.  Of course calling themselves “New York Orchestra” probably won’t work.

The works performed were written in the 18th, 19th and 21st (well, year 2000) centuries, so quite a range.

Gabriela Lena Frank was born to a Peruvian-Chinese mother and a Latvian-Jewish father.  Her music comes from an anthropological perspective while maintaining its own distinctive voice.  Andean Elegy, one of Frank’s first written down compositions, is dedicated to her older brother, and explores what it means to be of several ethnic persuasions – of several minds.  One characteristic is the use of two flutes to mimic the Peruvian double-row panpipes.

The paragraph above is taken directly from the description in the Playbill.  I thought while the 11-minute long piece has its interesting moments, it sounded quite repetitive, and flat (perhaps befitting an elegy.)  I did catch the effect produced by the flutes, and still wonder how that somewhat eerie sound was generated.

I have heard Richard Goode a couple of times before, and generally enjoyed his playing.  He again needed the music in front of him, although for tonight I was sure just as insurance (most of the time anyway.)  Tonight the sound he produced on a Steinway concert grand sounded very subdued, at times very much like a period fortepiano.  It came across well.

Richard Goode, Jamie Laredo, and the New York String Orchestra.

The Scottish Symphony is a 40-minute long piece inspired by Mendelssohn’s visit to Scotland.  He also wrote the Fingal’s Cave Overture as a result of the visit; this Symphony would come 12 years later.  While I was sure the players had no problems with the music, the lack of “together time” showed on several occasions by the somewhat muddled playing.  The three movements, played with no (or minimal) pause are (i) Andante con moto – Allegro un poco agitato; (ii) Vivace non troppo; (iii) Adagio; and (iv) Allegro vivacissimo – Allegro maestoso assai.

Since 12/26 we have had a cold spell (temperature not breaking freezing) that is forecasted to last through 1/7/2018.  On top of that the Newark Bay Bridge was closed for emergency repairs, making driving quite untenable.  We ended up taking the train.  After the concert we rushed back to Penn Station to catch the 10:20 pm train.  Along the way we bought a couple of McDonald’s burgers, but had to leave before getting the food because we were afraid we would miss the train.  I had a light meal before we left, Anne was quite hungry by the time we got home.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the evening.  It was good to see so many young people take their music so seriously, and that there are people willing to help them along.

Monmouth Civic Chorus – Ryan James Brandau, conductor. December 17, 2017.

Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank, NJ.  Orchestra (Seat L6, $45).

Joy to the World: The Messiah & More

Meg Dudley, soprano
Bob Kelly, reader
Kenneth Wasser, baritone
Daniel Ford, reader
Gerald Metz, baritone
The New Jersey Youth Chorus – Patricia Joyce, Artistic Director

This concert was again part of the celebration of my “twin” Lorinda’s and my birthday.  Jennifer again sang in the chorus.

I don’t plan to do a critical review of the concert, instead just a few general remarks.

The concert was quite well-attended, better than any of the NJSO concerts I have been to at this venue.  I imagine if each performing member brings along 5 guests, it would fill half the auditorium already.

A selfie of the four of us.

Again, the acoustics left something to be desired.  I am sure in a hall with better acoustics I would be able to hear the chorus clearly.  Instead I had to strain, quite hard at times, to make out what they were singing.  The NJYC had a few numbers, and they did well.  As they say, children and animals always steal the show.

Meg Dudley is a professional singer and I enjoyed her singing.  The other two singers are part of MCC, they have beautiful voices but needed the PA system for sound projection. I wonder if that resulted in an unfair assessment of how Dudley did.

There were three numbers from Messiah, perhaps the program should be titled: “More and Messiah?”  In any case, it was an enjoyable evening.  The audience enthusiastically joined in the singing of “Jingle Bells.”

Meg Dudley on the right side of photo.  Members of NJYC in front.

Afterward the Homs and we had a nice, simple dinner at Juanito’s.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

New Jersey Symphony – Xian Zhang, conductor; Stephen Hough, piano. December 2, 2017.

State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ.  Orchestra (seat O106, $18.)

Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 (1912, rev. 1915) by Rachmaninoff (1873-1943).
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43 (1934) by Rachmaninoff.
Symphony No. 6 in E-flat Minor, Op. 111 (1945-47) by Prokofiev (1891-1953).

In the past few years I would get an email from NJSO announcing their Thanksgiving sale, which would typically have the ticket prices reduced by 50%.  I didn’t get any (or missed it) for this season.  After midnight on Thanksgiving I decided to visit the NJSO website to see what was on offer.  Turns out they were offering a “Black Friday” special where most seats would sell for $15, plus a $3 per ticket handling fee.  I grabbed four pairs at that price.

I am writing this on December 16, two weeks after the concert, and frankly do not remember much of it, even though I made a mental note of what I wanted to jot down during the concert.

Anne and I were in Ireland on Halloween 2014, and attended a Halloween-themed classical concert that featured the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody.  A few things we learned (probably reinforced during the intervening several years) were still fresh in my mind, in particular the Dies Irae theme and the inverted melody.  I also took a look at the score and found out there were 24 variations (if memory serves), so quite short.  Today’s performance was very enjoyable.  Stephen Hough pounded it out quite methodically, but it was a lively performance.  He played one of Chopin’s Nocturnes as encore.

At the conclusion of the concert.  My finger was in the way of the lens, evidently.  Need to get use to this new iPhone I am using.

So I have some record of the other two pieces, let me at least quote from the Program.  On the Vocalise: “Originally a wordless song for voice and piano, Vocalise has been arranged for numerous other instrumental combinations.  In the composer’s orchestration, violins deliver the ravishing soprano melody.”  On Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 6: “The trajectory of this rarely heard wartime work moves gradually from darkness, through lyricism, to affirmation.  A march frames the first-movement development.  The eloquent central Largo is warm and expressive, while a Haydnesque motor rhythm propels the finale.”  The three movements of the Symphony are: Allegro moderato, Largo, and Vivace.  This was the first time the NJSO performed it.

I did remember this as being a worthwhile event, especially consider the cost and closeness of State Theatre to our house.  Too bad there were many empty seats in the auditorium.  I was seated in the orchestra section and noticed several rows with very few people in them.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

New York Philharmonic – Gianandrea Noseda, conductor; Frank Huang, violin. November 26, 2017.

David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, Orchestra 3. (Seat HH114, $56).

Suite from The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh (190304, arr. 1908?) by Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), arr. M. Steinberg
Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61 (1880) by Saint-Saens (1835-1921).
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 44 (1935-36, rev. 1938) by Rachmaninoff (1873-1943).

We got tickets to the concert because of scheduling problems.  New York Philharmonic will now only give you back the value you paid if you swap concerts. In this case they were offering $59 tickets for Orchestra 2 tickets, but wanted to charge full price if swapped ticket value was used.  Hence these tickets towards the back of the orchestra.

They were actually not bad seats acoustics wise, even though they were a bit far from the stage.

For me the main draw was the Saint-Saens concerto, which I listened to a lot during my younger days, and also attempted a few passages.  In my opinion Huang did a much better job with this than he did with the Franck concerto.  The piece contains many challenges for the violinist, one is the long passage of harmonics at the end of the slow movement.  To do good harmonics required a precise spread of the fingers and bowing close to the bridge, if memory serves.  Easy enough if it is one note, not so easy with multiple measures. Huang dispatched them with ease. I did think the whole piece started a bit slow, but things got on track soon afterwards.

Curtain call after performance of the Saint-Saen's Violin Concerto.

The Legend of the Invisible City is an opera written by Rimsky-Korsakov during 1903-04, and the composer’s son-in-law Maximilian Steinberg extract the suite from it a few years later.  The opera has of course a story associated with it, and the markings for the suite are (i) Prelude – Hymn to Nature; (ii) Fevroniya’s Wedding Procession – Invasion of the Tatars; (iii) The Battle of Kerzhenets; and (iv) Fevroniya’s Glorious End – The Ascension to the Invisible City.  Some of the movements were evidently played without break, so I couldn’t quite track the music with the outline.  The opera may be worth seeing, although it is not staged that much outside of Russian, the suite definitely is not.  It was performed twice in New York Philharmonic history, in February 1994.

I was quite sure I had heard Rachmaninoff’s third symphony before, but couldn’t find any entry in this blog.  (The last NY Phil performance was in 2003.) It did sound familiar, and the Dies Irae of the third movement was barely discernable.  The three movements are (i) Lento – Allegro moderato – Allegro; (ii) Adagio ma non troppo – Allegro vivace – Tempo come prima; and (iii) Allegro – Allegro vivace – Allegro.

So the concert consisted a popular violin concerto sandwiched between two rather obscure pieces.  I nonetheless enjoyed it.

I was surprised to see a stool placed on the podium.  While Noseda sat on it on occasion, his conducting continued to be quite energetic.

The New York Times review is very positive, even though it started with a tongue-in-check description that the programming was a “mild adventure.”  He explained that Noseda had back surgery recently.

Drive into and out of New York City was quite straightforward.  We again opted for takeout food, this time from the Chinese place on Amsterdam.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Metropolitan Opera – Ades’s The Exterminating Angel. November 21, 2017.

Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center.  Balcony (Seat B115, $92.50).

Story.  The setting is a mansion in a large city suggestive of Mexico City during the 1960s.  Strange things happen at a dinner party hosted by Lucia and Edmundo Nobile.  First the butler and two maids escape, along with some other servants.  The whole plot is surreal, with a dancing bear and lambs (which get slaughtered).  Other things that happen (which may or may not be important) include: Blanca performing at the piano, lovers Eduardo and Beatriz retreat to a private room but eventually commit suicide, there is no water so the guests break a pipe, a hand that wanders around on stage, mobs try to storm the house, soldiers appear to stop them.  During all these events the guests try but fail to leave the mansion, and are forced to stay the night.  They eventually feel it is necessary to sacrifice the host but stop because they realize they are back in the same places they were the night before.  They manage to cross the threshold, but something bad happens.

Conductor – Thomas Ades. The Hosts: Edmundo de Nobile – Joseph Kaiser, Lucia – Amanda Echalaz; Their Guests – Leticia – Audrey Luna, Leonara – Alice Coote, Silvia de Avila – Sally Matthews, Francisco de Avila – Iestyn Davies, Blanca Delgado – Christine Rice, Alberto Roc – Rod Gilfry, Beatriz – Sophie Bevan, Eduardo – David Portillo, Raul Yebenes – Frederic Antoun, Colonel Alvaro Gomez – David Adam Moore, Senor Russell – Kevin Burdette, Doctor Carlos Conde – Sir John Tomlinson; The Staff: Julio – Christian van Horn, Lucas – John Irvin, Enrique – Ian Koziara, Pablo – Paul Corona, Meni – Mary Dunleavy, Camila – Catherine Cooke, Servants – Andrea Coleman & Marc Persing.  Outside the House: Padre Sanson – Jeff Mattsey, Yoli – Lucas Mann.

The actual synopsis is over two pages long.  I read it several times and still couldn’t make any sense of it.  The opera is based on Luis Bunuel’s “classic” 1962 film of the same name.  The lady sitting next to us told us she watched the movie before this performance, and that the opera hewed close to the plot of the movie.

My overall conclusion was: a plot I don’t get, music I don’t get, and – with seats in the balcony – roles I can’t tell apart.  None of that probably mattered.  I would draw a parallel with a Dali painting.  If you look at it once, you wonder what he is trying to say.  You look at it for a long time, you begine to find out what the “hidden objects” are in the painting, but there is no hope of trying to make sense out of it.  The Playbill does contain this statement about the film: “… defies attempts at systematic analysis and even seems to denounce the need for answers as one of society’s many pathologies.”  I can try to sound deep and link all this to post-modernism, but it would be a waste of time.

To me the most unfortunate part is the score seems to demand a lot from the musicians.  It goes without saying that the music is atonal, but what was unexpected was how high the voices had to reach.  Of course the singers could be doing random notes and few in the audience would notice.  The applause was quite enthusiastic, and the house was quite full.

I had a prior encounter with Ades’s music – Three Studies from Couperin.  I liked it, per my blog. I am not sure I would recommend this opera to anyone, but not quite ready to discourage someone from going.

 There are 15 solo roles in this opera.

Thomas Ades taking a bow.

The New York Times review, however, is glowing, going so far as to say “if you go to a single production this season, make it this one.”  Reading it did jog my memory: the chandeliers in the auditorium were used as part of the set; and Audrey Luna was the coloratura soprano.  There is another New York Times article contains a discussion on the opera.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

New York Philharmonic – Alan Gilbert, conductor; Joshua Bell, violin; Kelly O-Connor, mezzo-soprano. October 31, 2017.

David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.  Orchestra (Seat X103, $66.25).

Program – Bernstein’s Philharmonic, A Centennial Festival
Boundless (Homage to L.B.) by Roukens (b. 1982).
Serenade (after Plato’s Symposium) for Violin, String Orchestra, Harp, and Percussion (1953-54) by Berstein (1918-1990).
Symphony No. 1, Jeremiah (1942) by Bernstein.

We have been in the Boston area since mid-October.  I needed to take care of a few things back home and took advantage of the reduced-price offer for this concert.  This is a multi-week event celebrating Bernstein’s centennial (one could argue the celebration should be held next year, as Bernstein was born in 1918.)  We hadn’t planned on any of these concerts, our plans to be out of town was one factor, but my general lack of interest in Bernstein’s music was another.  This concert – or rather the Program Notes – certainly added quite a bit to my knowledge of Bernstein as a composer.

The other thing I didn’t expect was Gilbert was to be the conductor.  He came out to tremendous applause from the audience.  He asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the morning’s terrorist attack.

Joey Roukens is a young Dutch composer who wrote this piece on commission from the Concertgebouw Orchestra, and its premiere was conducted by Gilbert.  The piece consists of three movements - manically, glacially, propulsively – played without break.  The changes in tempo was so obvious that not much guesswork was required.  Between the annotator’s notes and the “composer’s words” segment one could get a pretty good picture of what Roukens is trying to say.  To me the first movement has a strong dose of jazz, the second reasonably successfully evoked Bernstein conducting Mahler’s Adagietto, and the last movement was a free for all.  The composition probably is more nuanced than that, but the highest compliment I can give it would be that it can be passed off as a Bernstein piece to folks that are not Bernstein scholars.

Also, the piece was designed as a companion piece to the Serenade, with very similar instrumentation.  There are a few major differences though: no solo violin, a larger set of percussion instruments, and the use of a keyboard.

The Serenade was modeled after Plato’s Symposium with dialogs from different characters: (i) Phaedrus: Pausanias (Lento – Allegro marcato); (ii) Aristophanes (Allegretto); (iii) Eryximachus (Presto); (iv) Agathon (Adagio); and (v) Socrates: Alcibiades (Molto tenuto – Allegro molto vivace – Presto vivace).  The work was commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in memory of the deceased conductor.  There is a lot of discussion whether Bernstein tried to fit his music into the titles, or the inspiration did come of the speeches made by the individuals.  Since I also know little about Plato, I didn’t try to find out which argument was correct.

I remember having trouble with Joshua Bell’s playing on several occasions, most on intonation issues with familiar pieces. Today I had no reservations at all that he did a great job.  The piece is not overtly difficult, but calls for many double stops and high notes.  Bell did them well.  There was a movement (iv, I believe) that was essentially a duet with the cello, and Bell went to Carter Brey to thank him at the end, well and good.  I noticed that he ignored Huang, wonder if that was an oversight or on purpose.

Carter Brey being acknowledged at the conclusion of Bernstein's Serenade. 

Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 is based loosely on the story of Jeremiah and his Lamentations.  Indeed the first sketches Bernstein made was a “lamentation” for soprano and orchestra while he was still at Harvard.  When the work was premiered, Bernstein provided some notes for it.  “Prophecy” is to parallel the intensity of the prophet’s pleas with his people, “profanation” is a scherzo describing the destruction and chaos brought on by the pagan corruption within the priesthood and the people, and “lamentation,” set to Hebrew poetic text, is a more literary conception of the cry of Jeremiah.

The Playbill says the piece lasts about 27 minutes; it lasted perhaps 22.  I didn’t hear a break between the first and second movements, and was wondering why the soloist would come out for the second movement – and I was sure I didn’t doze off.  O’Connor generally did well, although the full orchestra drowned her out on occasion.

Kelly O'Connor taking a bow.

Most people who know anything about Bernstein know he shot onto the conducting scene by substituting for Bruno Walter on short notice in a nationally broadcast concert.  So people paid a lot of attention when this Symphony was premiered a couple of months later, with the Pittsburgh Symphony, in its hometown.  The performance got uniformly great review, and Bernstein became an instant composing conductor (or the other way around, as Salonen often debates.)

I guess the life lesson here is one should always try to be well prepared as there is no telling what opportunities would come along.

Attendance at this concert (last of five in this series) was quite good; I am sure the discount helped.  The people next to me didn’t stay for the second half, so I moved one over, which gave me an excellent view of the stage.

The New YorkTimes reviewer loved the concert.  The review also contains some useful details of the pieces.

I took the train in.  The concert ended early enough that I made the 9:38 pm train back, so I was home a little after 11 pm.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Jersey Symphony – Xian Zhang, conductor; Alban Gerhardt, cello. October 14, 2017.

Count Basie Theater, Red Bank, NJ. (Balcony, Seat E111, $38).

Musica celestis (1990, arr. 1991) by Kernis (b. 1960).
Variations on a Rococo Theme for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33 (1876) by Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
Symphony No. 6 in F Major, “Pastoral,” Op. 68 (1808) by Beethoven (1770-1827).

Tonight’s concert was the first of the Red Bank series this season.  My expectations on attendance were so low that, even with an entire section in the balcony unoccupied except for one row (ours), I thought the turn-out was okay.  The orchestra section seemed quite full, which was good.  We moved to the second row of our section so we could have more leg room.

With the exception of the first piece, which was premiered by NJSO in this series of concerts, the program can be characterized as comfort food, which was quite okay with me as I was not looking for a lot of intellectual challenge.

The Tchaikovsky piece is described as the closest thing to a concerto that Tchaikovsky wrote for the cello.  It certainly was difficult enough, at times calling for fingering that went higher than the fingerboard, if I observed correctly.  However, structured as a theme, seven variations, and two cadenzas, it would never be mistaken for a concerto.  Perhaps a very long (at 18 minutes) movement.

I enjoyed the piece as consisting of nice tunes, with some intellectual challenge in trying to follow the structure, and a showcase for the virtuosity of the soloist.  This was the first time we saw Gerhardt, and he came through brilliantly, working very well with the orchestra.  There were a few intonation problems during the fast and high-pitch runs.  Given the spacing between notes for a cello, I wonder if it is possible to get every note correct under such circumstances.

I looked and listened to the music before the concert, and was surprised to see what I heard (from YouTube) was quite different from the score I had.  I do not know if tonight’s performance also incorporated a lot of artistic freedom.

Gerhardt and Zhang at conclusion of Tchaikovsky's Variations.

Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony is familiar to many.  Zhang did say a few things beforehand: Beethoven was an “angry” man who would escape to the woods to calm down; she also described what the movements were trying to depict; and asked some musicians to demonstrate the birds and thunder.  I also read that this is one symphony where the sudden contrasts so characteristic of Beethoven are kept to a minimum, more so than his “even-numbered” symphonies.

I am sure I knew all that, but it was good to have all that refreshed for this performance.  This was one of the few occasions that I could just sit there and let the music take over.  Gerhardt was actually sitting at the rear of the cello section playing along.

Gerhardt sat in the cello section during the Beethoven symphony.  Zhang patted his shoulder as acknowledgement during curtain call.

The program led off with Aaron Jay Kernis’s arrangement of his own string quartet.  It was quite easy to follow, although LiveNote would again be very useful.  The thing I found curious was I seemed to hear many more than five voices at several instances (there was also a bass section.)

The National Anthem was not played, so it was probably reserved only for the season-opening concert.

As usual, getting to and leaving Red Bank were straight-forward affairs.