On Sunday I attended another Cleveland Orchestra concert at Blossom Music Center. I took Carol, a friend and former colleague who used to be the chairperson of the foreign language department at the school where I taught. Her birthday is later this month, so this was an early birthday celebration for her.
We first went out for dinner at a restaurant in the picturesque village of Peninsula on the banks of the Cuyahoga River.
From there it was a short drive to the Blossom Music Center, the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra. We had seats in the pavilion, but many people sit on the lawn and have a picnic during the concert. It was a very warm evening. Ohio was suffering from the heat wave that hit much of the eastern half of the nation. The forecast called for a 50% chance of thunderstorms that evening, and the skies were becoming overcast.
The guest conductor was Swiss-born Thierry Fisher, and he led the orchestra in a concert that had a mostly Spanish flavor. The first selection was the popular orchestral suite from Bizet's opera "Carmen", Spanish-style music written by a French composer.
The next piece was "Concierto de Aranjuez", a guitar concerto written by the Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. This is my favorite piece of Spanish classical music. The best known portion of the work is the beautiful second movement, "Adagio". To me it expresses all the melancholy of Spain's long and tragic history.
The soloist was one of the most famous classical guitarists in the world, 75 year old Pepe Romero.
He along with his late father and two brothers formed the Romeros Quartet and were considered the "Royal Family of Guitar". Señor Romero gave a beautiful performance... neither age nor sweltering heat tarnished his virtuosity.
Here is a YouTube video of Pepe Romero playing the "Concierto de Aranjuez"... although it is not with the incomparable Cleveland Orchestra.
"Concierto de Aranjuez" with Pepe Romero
By intermission the temperature had moderated. I turned around and saw that it was raining. The people on the lawn were either scurrying home or taking shelter under the pavilion. A few brave souls were determined to remain where they were under umbrellas or plastic tarps.
The second half of the concert began with Rimsky Korsakov's "Capriccio Espagnol". This is a Russian composer's interpretation of Spanish melodies. It builds to an exciting climax and is another favorite of mine.
Finally, breaking from the Spanish theme of the evening, the orchestra performed Claude Debussy's "La Mer"... an impressionist painting in musical form portraying the many moods of the sea.
It was still raining when the concert concluded. We trudged our way under my umbrella, up the hill to the parking lot. In spite of the heat and the rain, it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.