About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

08 August 2013

JPO's Tchaikovsky Celebration

After almost a year of financial turmoil, the JPO did get new funding from the Lotteries board, which has allowed it to get back on its feet. The funding does not solve the JPO's debt problem - but at least it gives an opportunity to get back to a functioning organisation. 

Given the time of the year, the JPO has sensibly decided to put on a proper symphony season in October. In the meantime, there are a few one off shows - with the Tchaikovsky Celebration being one of them; and the only one that just features the JPO. 

The program started with Capriccio Italien, which is described in the program as ".. the Russian has written us a postcard from Italy". It is a fairly long piece - more of a letter than a postcard - with quite a few easily identifiable Italian themes, but still a piece that one could identify as being a  Tchaikovsky piece.

Pallavi Mahidhara returned to play with the JPO once again, this time Piano Concerto 1, one of my favourites.  It is quite interesting (and sometimes amusing) to see how different soloists behave during the orchestral only parts of the performances. Some stare into the crowd, some into their instrument - but Pallavi is one of the rare soloists I have seen that just close their eyes and sway to the music; as if playing along with the orchestra in their heads - and seemingly just in time, open their eyes, nod at the conductor and carry on!

The Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture after the break, felt too long for an overture - and more of a summary of the whole story instead of an opening introduction to the story. It seems from Wikipedia, that it is supposed to cover the whole play - but it did feel weird when listening to it - to go from peace, to fun, to sadness and finally the dramatic end - but at the same time, unlike many other pieces, it did capture the essence of the story so well.

The 1812 Overture, finished off the evening. It is a very popular piece, and this is the first time I have heard it live. It is famous for its boisterous ending, but it is great piece throughout; and was superbly timed and played by the orchestra and conductor Robert Maxym.

All in all, one of the most enjoyable JPO concerts I have been to.

04 August 2013

Movie: The Wolverine

I had gone to see The Wolverine, thoroughly expecting a bad movie - and was pleasantly surprised. The movie features the usual superhero movie requirements - a reluctant hero with "issues", the beautiful lady that requires protection, the sidekick who pitches up in time, betrayal, twists on who the villain is, and off course amazing fight sequences. 

The storyline hangs together (most of the time at least), and Hugh Jackman's acting as the lone, reluctant superhero is superb. It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie, and far better than I expected - even if it is due to low expectations in the first place.

Movie: Pacific Rim

Visually, Pacific Rim is absolutely amazing. But the 3D movie, has very one dimensional plot, character development, acting, script, dialogue, and almost every other aspect of movie making. All the comments in support talk about the fact that this is supposed to be a movie about monsters vs robots - but that does not make it a movie. If the purpose was simply to showcase fights between large monsters and large robots, in different settings - shorts would have been far more effective.

In fact, almost every morsel of good ideas that could have made this a great movie was seemingly spurned. The backstory of why the monsters want to attack earth - a short snippet by perhaps the most irritating character on any super-hero movie - and then left to rot. The back story on why building a wall is a better way - never explored. The political machinations on the closure of the giant robot fighting apparatus - mostly ignored. Instead, what you have left with is substandard acting, really horrible scripts and plot holes larger than the monsters and robots that are the subject matter.

Ultimately this is a disaster movie, and has the expected ending of the saving of the human race. It played a lot like Armageddon (so much so, I think there are direct parallels that can be drawn between the various characters) - less the brilliant sound track. Armageddon was just far better.