Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Expense Ratios

I’m a value investor.  I relish taking advantage of market anomalies in stocks as well as in goods ranging from albums to airline tickets.  Operating as an adaptable music obsessive in Kansas City means it’s impossible to uncover attractive deals on admission to concerts by stars like Lil Uzi Vert, but bargains abound for ostensibly highbrow performances.

The highlight of my stingy concertgoing career may always be nabbing a deeply-discounted front-row ticket to a 2012 Philip Glass concert for $30.  Even so, I’m inordinately pleased to have spent a measly $20 (plus a $4 dollar service fee) to see the jazz giant Bill Frisell last week.  (My review at Plastic Sax).

I’ve also been living high on the hog due to market aberrations for chamber music at the Folly Theater.  Spending $35 on a front-row seat for a concert by the revered chamber orchestra Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin allowed me to live like a Prussian monarch for two hours on February 21.  I pondered palace intrigue while basking in the rarified sound of unamplified period instruments.

The wondrous experience compelled me to buy another $35 front-row ticket for a concert by the Pavel Haas Quartet featuring pianist Boris Giltburg on March 6.  As the embedded photo of the string quartet’s Veronika Jarůšková and Giltburg indicates, I was so close to the action that I couldn’t capture the entire ensemble in a single frame.  As much as I’ll always love “XO Tour Lif3”,  the chamber music concert transformed me in a way an Uzi performance can not.  Watching Giltberg wrestle with Rachmaninoff’s “Études-tableaux”- (more or less exactly like this)- from a distance of ten feet allowed me to finally grasp the appeal of the composer’s work.

The jazz inflections in a contemporary piece by Ľubica Čekovská reminded me of Anthony Davis (this AD) compositions while the ensemble’s vital take on String Quartet No. 9 in C major made it seem as if Beethoven should be celebrating his 50th rather than his 250th.  Even though I didn’t enjoy a 45-piece Dvorak nearly as much, I walked out of the Folly Theater a changed man.  Eternal Atake resonated differently on my drive home.

I’ve saved the best for last.  I lamented the necessity of passing on Daniil Trifonov’s March 12 concert.  Tickets were far too rich for my blood.  But less than five minutes after receiving an email notification from the presenter offering remaining seats at a eighty-percent discount, I owned a fourth-row center ticket to hear the one of the most celebrated pianists in the world for a price of just $20.50.  I trust Uzi admires my investment acumen.

I make weekly concert recommendations for The Kansas City Star.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)

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