I decided yesterday to go to a concert and not have an opinion about it, just for a change. The concert I went to was the Leipzig String Quartet playing Mozart’s quartet in D major K. 499, Tan Dun’s Eight Colors for string quartet and Beethoven’s quartet No. 11 in F (“Serioso”). The concert was hosted by Bargemusic, so like last time there was some rolling when large vessels passed by on the river. (The encore was a brief snippet from Parsifal arranged for string quartet, with – during the cellist’s brief explanation of what the piece was – a blast of maritime foghorn at the word ‘Bayreuth’.)
Like I said, I decided to emerge without writing down a reaction to what I heard. I’m not sure if I experienced the music differently as a result – I might even have enjoyed it a little less than normal, because I wasn’t quite as focused.
I got most absorbed by the Mozart and the last movement of the Beethoven – with Tan Dun I felt like I spent the whole piece figuring out how to listen to it. I’ve heard some of his music before (Kronos Quartet playing the Ghost Opera) but not a lot – though given that the Eight Colors is about all the various non-obvious sounds, textures, etc. that you can extract from the four instruments of a string quartet, a live performance, with all the immediacy and detail that it provides, is a pretty good introduction to the piece.