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“I’m going to give you a little advice. There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”

What does Caddyshack have to do with a night at the symphony? Everything, when the conductor is Charles Dutoit. Although one might think I was there to watch the sexy French man (see below) on cello, it was Dutoit who held my attention as he conducted the Symphonie fantastique without a score, literally becoming the music in front of our eyes. Since Dutoit is known for his recordings of Berlioz and Ravel, this was not surprising, but it was an amazing experience to watch him throughout the piece, with every note written in his powerful but fluid movements as if on a score.

La Liberté guidant le peuple, 1830, Musée du Louvre

The Symphonie fantastique is such an important work in the canon that it was delightful to see it in such good hands. Groundbreaking in and of itself, it premiered during a seminal moment in the arts and literature of France: 1830 witnessed not only the political July Revolution, but also its artistic depiction in Delacroix’s La Liberté guidant le peuple, as well as the publication of Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir and the première of Victor Hugo’s Hernani amidst public riots heralding the downfall of classicism. Yet this symphony is also one of the easiest to understand and follow, as it is essentially one long tone poem about the artist’s obsessive and unrequited love. It will always be one of my favorites, despite its use in Sleeping with the Enemy.

Gautier Capuçon

Unfortunately, the cello concerto at the beginning of the bill (Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain) was less interesting, despite the presence of Gautier Capuçon. While the piece requires extreme and impressive ranges of sound from the instrument, and Capuçon achieved them, the work as a whole just never captured and held my interest. To me, it sounded like the soundtrack of some sort of creepy neo-noir from the 1980s or 90s trying to be avant-garde.

Maybe that’s what they should have used in Sleeping with the Enemy?

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