Today began my three week stint with the Boston Symphony, which begins its 2017-18 season this weekend. The reason: I’ve been invited to join the band for their tour to Japan in November, the tour repertoire is on the docket for the first three weeks, and it makes good sense for the musicians on the tour to have the substantial repertoire under their belt. Today’s rehearsals included Mahler First and the Haydn “Drumroll” Symphony, and although the orchestra hadn’t played together for since the end of the Tanglewood season a few weeks ago, it didn’t take long for everyone to get back into the groove.
The older I get, the more Haydn’s clarity and inventiveness appeal to me in comparison to Mahler’s extra thick barbecue sauce angst, tasty though it might be. (Though among Mahler’s nine symphonies the first is my favorite–perhaps because it’s the closest to Haydn.) But also the older I get, as the novelty of being a wandering minstrel wears off, it’s replaced by the deeper, if less adventurous pleasure of playing great music–yes, of course that includes Mahler, too–with a great orchestra.
That’s not to say that spending three weeks in Boston doesn’t have its charms. I’m renting a little studio apartment on Newbury Street, and on the 15-minute walk from the apartment to Symphony Hall I pass approximately 400 restaurants I’d wouldn’t mind sampling. But when I say “little” apartment, I do mean little. Here’s a photo of m”kitchen”: Yep, that’s it. (That’s the fridge on the left under the 2-burner stove.) Nevertheless, it is my temporary home–not the fridge, the apartment–and to tell you the truth, I’m not relishing the idea of eating out all the time. So tonight I decided to eat in and managed to find enough utensils to do some cooking: fetuccini with a sauce of sauteed peppers, onions, and garlic from our garden in the Berkshires, olive oil, and shaved parmigiana from DeLuca’s Market next door.
After dinner, I worked on bowings to the string parts of the Sinfonia to the oratorio “La Susanna,” by the underappreciated 17th century Baroque composer, Alessandro Stradella, which I’m conducting in December; watched an episode of House of Cards; communicated with the producer of my soon-to-be-released audio book of my mystery novel, “Danse Macabre;” and am now watching the Yankees take the lead against Minnesota.
All in all, a fine way to start the concert season.