Friday, March 17, 2017

MN ORCHESTRA RACES TO HIGH ENERGY SUCCESS



Concert goers to the Minnesota Orchestra are in for a real energizing treat this weekend (3-16 and-17) With young substitute conductor, Perry So, the orchestra offers up a fast-paced trio of lesser-known pieces by some stalwart dogs, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Beethoven. All are handled with aplomb and finesse by the orchestra and director who was brought in at literally the last moment.
Adding to the excitement, young-very young-violinist Simone Porter laid into the Mendelssohn Concerto in E minor with considerable sass and assurance. She appeared to have left the Thursday morning concert audience and members neatly exhausted with her speed and passion. The audience approved mightily.
Overall, one could quibble that perhaps some subtle nuances were ignored or run down by the pell-mell pace, but all three pieces were cleanly and enjoyably performed.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Minnesota Orchestra salutes Sir Neville Marriner

Coffee concert today, 1/26/17. Originally scheduled to be conducted by
Sir Marriner who died unexpectedly in October, 2017.  The orchestra performed admirably, first
Fingal's Cave by Mendelssohn, then Beethoven's Symphony No. 1 in C major. Finally, Anton Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 in G minor. All three were well done although I found the Beethoven to be a bit up tempo for my taste.

At the end, a series of projected photographs of Marriner while the orchestra performed. A fitting tribute to a much loved conductor who led the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1986.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

WWII TALES OF SUCCOR AND HEROISM IN FRANCE




A Good Place to Hide      
By Peter Grose
ISBN: 9781681771243
A 2015 Release from
Pegasus Books

The period between 1939 and 1944 in Europe was not smooth and elegant. Relative calm settled over France as the Vichy Government moved to solidify itself and accommodate German occupation in the Northern Zone. A ragged wave of refugees from eastern Europe rolled west. As author Peter Grose notes, the central figures were Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Winston Churchill. War was the order of the day and as competing armies surged across the land, residents of a small, almost unnoticed group of farm villages in the high Loire valley found themselves responsible for a large humanitarian effort.
It didn’t seem to matter that for a thousand years the Huguenots had been persecuted for their religious and social beliefs. They were prepared to hide Jewish refugees at the drop of a trigger. And because of Haute-Loire’s proximity to Switzerland, they became a conduit for protection and saving of thousands of Jewish refugees from all over Europe, hiding them and moving them on to safety in neutral Switzerland.
The book is at times mesmerizing with it’s incredible tales of seventeen-year-old Piton, a guide who made the perilous journey perhaps a hundred times, to Virginia Hall, an American woman who asserted herself into the fabric of Resistance command and directed dozens of parachute drops, movement of large amounts of cash, rescue of prisoners and destruction of key transportation links to disrupt German military operations.
The book is over-long in some details and in places needs trimming to increase its impact. But it is a strong inspiring tale of man’s humanity toward man and a detailing of some clever and scary maneuvers by those same humans. It was hard to put down and is a grand testament to the women and men of Haute-Loire villages who refused to bow to the fascist German fist, who saved almost a generation of Jews.