It seems that the classical music blogosphere has taken a hit this holiday, with vacations and overstuffing taking precedent over postings. I have been as guilty as anyone, but my excuse lies not only in a family holiday (replete with visiting nieces, aged five and seven) but a severely gashed index finger on my left hand, an injury which happened while chopping celery at a friend's house. Let this be a lesson to you all: don't be too helpful around this time of year, as it will double back and harm you in some way.
Being home makes me vastly nostalgic, and I always attempt to skew my listening accordingly. This trip I've been unable to keep away from Sir Michael Tippett's The Rose Lake, a work whose American premiere I was fortunate enough to witness more than once while a student in Boston. I sat in a box for all the performances, and had one of those early life-changers which is part and parcel of any artist's story. Each night, apart from being just completely enraptured by the work--think of a vast sea of tuned rototoms stage left and you can only imagine the little composer's eyes lighting up at the possibilities; I'd be willing to bet many a percussionist had hoped composers would not see this concert--I got to watch the frail, almost senescent Tippett, a hero of mine from way back, as he listened, not only to his own work but to Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto. Maybe this is romantic projection, but I sensed something in his demeanor as he listened that made me grow to love him more. His eyes lit; he leaned forward; his trembling hands crossed.
So driving around the weird wasteland that is Los Angeles, The Rose Lake is an odd soundtrack, especially its desultory "plop" of an anti-ending. Combined with lurid and overwhelming nostalgia, it takes on new life and new symmetries for me which I will no doubt be trying to recapture on my next sojourn here.