Last night got strange. Strange in that way where suddenly things are outside the known boundaries and no one really knows what's going to happen next but everyone's having fun at the moment and is willing to ride the train to wherever the next station is. It was as if all of a sudden we decided to become alternate versions of ourselves. Or looked at another way, maybe we were all just being ourselves, all at once and altogether.
It didn't start off unusually. I met GG at Urban Tavern for dinner. She was late, as I expected she would be since she usually is, but why complain? There's something immensely pleasing about watching a six-foot tall redhead (I suspect she's actually taller than that but won't cop to it) in a tight black dress slit all the way up the side in pearls and heels saunter up to your table. She towers over me and something about that has always excited me (she was seated the first time we met- I had no idea). I know it does nothing for her.
I'd ordered drinks for us while waiting and soon we were discussing the latest machinations of the Femme Fatale and what had happened with Penelope. After dinner we took a cab over to Davies, in which I noticed she was wearing thigh-high stockings. These always have a certain, well-defined effect on me. We picked up our tickets with minutes to spare and settled in to hear Vasily Petreneko take the reigns from MTT, leading Joshua Bell and the orchestra in the first guest conductor-led performance of the season. The last time Petrenko was here he impressed me so much I declared he should be MTT's successor when the day finally arrives. After last night I'm not so sure. Nothing went wrong, but the magic wasn't there in the same way. Some of that may be my response to the incredible performances I've seen led by MTT in the past month.
It began with an absolutely delightful version of Shostakovitch's Festival Overture taken at a breakneck pace. Flutist Tim Day again rocked it, as he has so often in the past month. If only the rest of the evening had the oomph behind it displayed in the opener it would have been an enchanting evening. Joshua Bell came out after it was over in an ensemble that was a sartorial mistake, though no one seemed to mind. Bell, a favorite of the audience for obvious reasons, did justice to Tchaikovsky's Meditation, from Souvenir d'un lieu cher, arranged by Glazunov, and though it was smooth as silk, the performance lacked passion and fire.
Though GG (and much of the audience) disagreed with me, passion and fire was also absent from Glazunov's Violin Concerto, which followed. Yes, Bell performed superbly, but there was something missing from it all. A bite, a hunger to take this unjustly rarely performed piece and make its performance something special wasn't there, despite Bell's command and amazingly fleet fretwork.
The absence of fire continued after the intermission, when it was just Petrenko and the orchestra performing Elgar's First Symphony. Like the Glazunov, there was nothing wrong with it, and sections bloomed beautifully, but it seemed a bit perfunctory, the orchestra never becoming seriously engaged with it all despite Petrenko's efforts. I know I'm in the minority with this response but there you have it. After the serious glory of what took place on this stage in the past month, last night was a bit of let-down. It had to happen sometime, I just wouldn't have expected it to come under a performance led by Petrenko.
Afterward, GG and I made our way over to Sugar to meet Isabella and the Swede (formerly the Elder Swede but since the younger one is pretty much MIA these days I'm officially discarding the epithet). Isabella and the Swede had been out on a "date" of sorts, though only in the platonic sense. Isabella had wanted to meet GG for awhile, based no doubt on my appreciation of her, always expressed in no uncertain terms.
Unbeknownst to me, bets were placed about my own response to what would happen with this particular grouping, the terms of which I remain still in the dark about, only knowing that one was a winner and the other not. I have photographic evidence of what occurred, but I don't understand it and await an explanation for exactly what the hell that was all about. Just because I have photos doesn't make any of it clearer. All I'm willing to divulge at the moment is this morning I overslept, and I received an email from Isabella saying "you seem to generate a special kind of energy" and a follow up text calling me "an evil man" after I had sent her the pictures.
GG and I unexpectedly ended up having lunch together today, but it was the last thing she wanted to talk about. Her response upon seeing the photos was "haha, oh, mah god :-)." Read into it what you will. I'm keeping the photos to myself, because afterall, I love those two women.