The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed at Symphony Center last night, minus one James Levine, who, according to the program notes, "has had to cancel his appearance...due to the aftereffects of an onstage fall that occurred during ovations following a performance last Wednesday at Symphony Hall." So. I was nowhere near the place, but still...the accidents keep happening.
I went for two reasons: first, to see and hear Lorraine Hunt Lieberson perform the Neruda Songs, set to music by her husband, Peter Lieberson, specifically for her. Khaleem can describe the mysterious glory that is Lorraine better than I can; I've read about her and all, but, as with most things vocal, the superlatives are tough to connect to without witnessing them in person. There is a serenity to her, a cool, reserved stateliness apparent both in her presence and in her voice: passionate, contained, and mature. It's as though she's seen the depths of something and been made stronger, wiser, and perhaps a little sadder by it. You also get the feeling that although she is standing on a stage with an orchestra behind her and hundreds of people sitting before her, she is singing to one person only, privately (and indeed,that person joined her onstage during the ovation. Her face lit up immediately, and she gravitated to him like a magnet, as if he were literally the other half of her. As a hopeless romantic who is frequently disenchanted by the idea of forming a permanent partnership with another human being, it was a wonder to see.). Hers is a voice made for contemplation, for winter, rich and deep and dark. You hear it and think, well, this is what love sounds like.
Second, I wanted to see and hear the BSO perform Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, which is my own very personal favorite. I was not disappointed—it was like witnessing a fox hunt, without the associated violence and implied mayhem: a happy charge of horns and violins, with oboe and flute leading the way. The only hard part was restraining myself from throwing my arms up to the sky and twirling, twirling, twirling in circles, like I do at home. This isn't music to sit motionless for. You hear it and think, well, this is what joy sounds like.