It's been such a treat to hear these works, though. I have been surprised at how much I enjoy the long symphonic works. We had seats right down in front at extreme house right so I could really see how the musicians took direction and played their instruments. Themes emerged from different parts of the orchestra and so had distinct physical embodiments as I heard them. The Shostakovich had some lovely soft yet intense playing in the middle movements and a triumphant finale. (I don't care if Stalin liked it, too. It transcends its origins.) Don Quixote featured Lynn Harrell on the cello. He captured the character of the hero in his playing (and in his facial expressions). I loved the orchestral effects - dripping rain, bleating sheep, a storm at sea - that accompanied the story. Saul tonight was a little over-long and repetitious, but the last Act had great emotional intensity and an amazing series of fugues at the end for the chorus. The soloists made me tingle with pleasure, especially the soprano, Amanda Forsythe, who trilled and warbled but remained comprehensible and in character. I found it harder to appreciate the music's transcendance of its origins in this case because of the disagreeable Old Testament story. At its core, however, there is wisdom about jealousy destroying what love created (sounds like Winter's Tale) even if there are also unexamined ideas about divine sanction of bloodshed.
Oh, and also, the whole family went to see the Shakespeare Company of New Jersey (Seven energetic young actors) perform A Midsummer Night's Dream Feb 8 and laughed until tears came down. The children too! They couldn't get over it. We took them to see U2 3D last weekend, which was not such a life-changing experience for them, though it hit all the right buttons for me and the missus.