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David Finckel and Wu Han at San Francisco State University

by VM Brasseur on October 21st, 2007

While at dinner last week my friend Laura told me about a free concert that she and Beth would be attending this weekend. “Free?” ask I. “Free!” says she. “Furthermore—and I don’t want to over sell this—he is the best cello player. In. The. Wooooooorld.”

Well alrighty then. It would be a crime to miss a show like that, wouldn’t it?

It’s been…um…many moons since I last saw a classical performance. A great many moons indeed. I used to go all the time back when I was in school but haven’t done much on that front here in California. This had already occurred to me a few weeks ago and I was considering getting a ticket to see Kurt Masur direct the San Francisco Symphony in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, a piece that I love. Unfortunately for Masur and Nevsky, free with two people whom I like beats out $35 (minimum) to see a show alone.

There were four pieces in this performance: a Strauss, a Grieg, a Franck and a bit of Britten for the encore. Unfortunately traffic and crappy parking got me there late so I missed not only the Strauss but also the program which would have allowed me to provide more information about the pieces played.

Finckel and Wu Han are a husband-wife team. Finckel is on cello, Wu Han on piano. Both are extraordinary musicians. The performances were flawless and evocative. The pieces selected did a good job of highlighting various techniques on both instruments (though all were cello concertos). I’m not well enough versed in the critters of the “Cello Playing World” to be able to say whether Finckel was, in fact (and I don’t want to over sell this), the best cello player. In. The. Wooooorld. But he was pretty damn good so I can see how he’s certainly a contender for the title. Even Beth, whose musical tastes lie elsewhere on the spectrum, liked the performance quite a bit.

The main point that I took away from the show is that I don’t see enough classical music performances anymore. I enjoy it greatly but for some reason all the shows I see are jazz or blues or rock. That’s all well and good but I ought to find a way to work more classical into the mix. This should become easier when I’m back in an environment (East Bay) where there are more performances from which to pick.

After the show Laura, Beth and I headed to Park Chow for dinner. Yes, the food and service were both great (and the prices as well), but what really made the evening was the company. Spending an evening with Laura and Beth is like listening to Sly and the Family Stone‘s Greatest Hits album: no matter how you feel at the start of it by the end of it you just feel good. They don’t even try to do it. It just happens. You feel good about relationships by seeing theirs work so well after so many years. You feel good about people by recognizing that there are these beautiful and intelligent ones right here to help prove to you that not everyone is a schmuck. And you feel good about yourself because these two great people enjoy spending time with you. I don’t get to see them nearly often enough.

Thanks for a great day, ladies. I’d just like to say—and I don’t want to over sell this—that you two are some of the best people. In. The. Wooooorld.

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