Visited my old friend (and sometime commenter) Cal in DC over the weekend. It turned out, unexpectedly to be something of a musical time. Saturday afternoon, the two of us had lunch near Capitol Hill with a young woman I used to work with at Montgomery Newspapers. Afterward, when she and her husband went home, Cal and I made our way over to the National Gallery of Art. We weren’t sure what we wanted to look at until I spotted a poster for Diaghilev and the Ballet Russe, 1909-1929: When Art Danced With Music over in the East Wing. I cooed like a chimpanzee and insisted we go. Cal, ever the gracious host, agreed.
The exhibition was a joy, with set designs, costumes, and filmed excerpts of the Ballet Russe’s major productions, including Petroushka, Prélude á l’après-midi d’une faune, Parade, and The Prodigal Son. Naturally, I spent more time in the Rite of Spring exhibit than in any other. I stood gaping, inches away from the costumes worn at the premiere. They seemed too well-preserved and colorful to be original, but assume they were, since nothing on the cards mentioned reproductions. The room also contained Picasso’s and Cocteau’s famous drawings of Stravinsky.
One complaint: The Faune and Rite rooms were close together, and looking at the video for one, I could hear the music from the other. The effect was more Charles Ives than Debussy.
Sunday, Cal and I drove around the Beltway to Virginia, where we met another old friend of mine for a free recital by the young violinist Jehshua Karunakaran. The program was mostly lightweight fiddling, despite Part’s Fratres and fourth-fifths of Bach’s Second Partita, but it was an enjoyable way to spend and afternoon, and what Mr. Karunakaran lacked in precision, he made up for in gusto. (He even managed a quick stomp during Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance.”)
I lived in DC for ten years, and this weekend only reminded me how much I miss it.