the ax man cometh – part I

this weekend’s concerts opened up with an opera overture by carl maria von weber – a guy who worked at the exact same time Beethoven did, and so unsurprisingly, most people have never heard of him.  turns out that Ludwig wasn’t the only trailblazing composer of the early 1800’s.  carl m-to-the-v-to-the-dubya-that’s-pronounced-like-a-v had the crazy idea of incorporating an opera’s tunes into the overture itself, giving the audience a sneak peek of what was to come in the show.  the next time i blare my oklahoma! soundtrack, and i get to belt out the farmer and the cowhand, out of my dreams, people will say we’re in love, and oh-kay-el-ay-aitch-oh-em-ay, all in the space of 4 minutes, i’ve got mr. weber to thank.

following the overture, guest conductor m. villuame grabbed a mic and delivered an educationally inspiring homily to the congregation.  [if you weren’t there, imagine an 8’3” wrestler with the voice of pepe le pew, clad in the requisite tuxedo, waxing eloquently about spectralist composition techniques and existentialism].  in addition to maestro villaume’s sermon, i’ve heard and read a number of things about color, the 21st-century work next on the menu (the stuff that wasn’t over my head was quite interesting).  cliff notes version: it’s music that is intensely technical and scientific, yet somehow impressionistic and dreamy; melody and rhythm are thrown out the window and replaced with a wall of undulating sound.  words fall short when most music is concerned; that’s especially true with this work.  it might be more helpful to visualize a single note the size of an imperial death star: composer dalbavie and co-pilot r2-d2 zoom in on an x-wing fighter (stay on target!) firing proton torpedoes down its exhaust vent and blow it to kingdom come, allowing us listeners to marvel at 20 or so minutes of auditory debris drifting by our collective cochlea.  it was the stuff of thx dreams, and it’s gonna be a long, long time before we hear anything like it again.


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