On Tuesday night I saw, with my friend Shawn, Prokofiev's Second Symphony performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Putin's fave conductor Valery Gergiev. It was amazing. A bit overly dramatic and repetitive at times, but edge-of-your-seat energy and these cliffhanger stops that robbed you of your breath.
Apparently, he thought that his second symphony was a failure. He didn't stop writing them for ten years like Rachmaninoff after his second, but he did think the piece was too wild and didn't hold together. Sounded great to me.
Then they played the Seventh which wholly sucked. When I was listening to it I thought of this Henry Miller quote from Tropic of Cancer, about a Ravel piece he heard that began with a bang and ended with a whimper:
"There was something heroic about it and he could have driven us stark mad, Ravel, if he had wanted to. But that’s not Ravel. Suddenly it all died down. It was as if he remembered, in the midst of his antics, that he had on a cutaway suit. He arrested himself. A great mistake, in my opinion. Art consists in going the full length. If you start with the drums you have to end with dynamite, or TNT. Ravel sacrificed something for form, for a vegetable that people must digest before going to bed.” - Henry Miller