Last Thursday I heard 21 year old Chinese piano prodigy Yuja Wang play Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto with the LA Philharmonic conducted by Charles Dutoit.
I'd never heard this piece, nor had I heard much about Wang. She emerged from the wings in a fire engine red strapless dress, but the outfit was the flashiest part of her performance. She's all business on the piano, and she was as impressive a pianist as I've heard in a long time. From my seats along the first violin side of the concert hall, I could only see her back, but it was clear her fingers were flying all over the keyboard from one end to another, and her long, slender, but toned arms pulled a huge sound from the belly of the instrument. Technical mastery, a command of musical phrasing, she showcased it all, and the crowd gave her a standing ovation.
The program concluded with Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherezade, one of the first classical pieces I remember my father playing for me when I was young, one of the first orchestral pieces to imprint itself in my memory. I can't think of many pieces more evocative, of another time, another land, and a timeless mythological tale. In so many movie scores I hear the musical lineage of Scheherazade and picture thick, crimson curtains sliding open to reveal a Technicolor panorama unfolding on screen.
As a side note, I've bought a turntable and am going back to vinyl. Cue obvious mid-life crisis/aging jokes, but for music I really love, CDs don't offer quite the sound I want (don't even start in on MP3s), and the selection in the SACD market is poor to nonexistent. I loved playing my dad's LPs when I was a kid, I love the big album cover art, and I love that crackle when the needle drops onto the vinyl: it generates a timeless Pavlovian anticipation.
Let me know if you have any recommendations as to good stores to buy vinyl, either online or in the LA area.