Posts Tagged 'Carol Rich'

Fanfare for the Uncommon Manitoban

Platonic LoveFor the past three nights, P-town’s ultimate cover band ended their program with Aaron Copland’s Symphony #3 – a composition whose well-known brassy chorales of American triumph made it an easy dedication to the recently terrified people of Boston. What preceded this symphonic sympathy note, however, was a pair of works so filled with palpably resilient energy, they were more than equal reminders of what’s best about the human condition. Kicking off the show was A Jazz Symphony written by the über-intriguing figure of George Antheil. Its herky-jerky syncopation, unpredictable insanity, and super sick stylings resulted in 8 solid minutes of perma-grinning for over 2,000 folks. [In my book, the kick-ass piano chops of Carol Rich were independently worth the price of admission.] And the evening’s soloist was Manitoban genius James Ehnes, whose deft display of violin virtuosity throughout the entirety of Bernstein’s Serenade was almost unnerving. Even from Row Y in the Upper Balcony bleachers, my ears were struck by the cool brilliance and unstoppable technique of Mr. Ehnes and his 298-year-old Stradivarius. Glimpsing the sublime moments when Jimmy’s fiddle teamed up with Nancy’s cello or Jennifer’s harp or Mike’s xylophone was like capturing sonic encomiums of love, tenderly delivered within a Schnitzer symposium. Oh, what a night!

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now that’s pathetic – part II

young, bearded, and wearing a long dark vest over a black-and-white striped shirt, *yossif ivanov walked on stage looking like a very dapper pirate in absolutely no need of an eye patch.  instead of a gleaming sword, this 26-year-old flemish phenom brandished a 313-year-old fiddle worth over 2 million smackers… a stradivarius that goes by the name of lady tennant.  [fact checkers here at the cb home office possess whole binders full of violins named after women.]  anywho, mr. ivanov was in town to tackle some very modern, very dissonant, very atonal music written way back in 1985 by frenchman henri dutilleux – who at 96 is alive and (hopefully) well and living in paris.  truth be told, this rodent is hard-pressed to call monsieur dutilleux’s composition “music” because what my furry little ears picked up monday night could best be described as noise without the expected trappings of melody and rhythm.  it wasn’t pretty.  [at one point, an image passed through my head of a shrieking tortoiseshell cat thrown into the dreaded shower scene of psycho.]  those in attendance monday night were forced to reckon with the stand-alone sonic qualities of volume, pitch, and tone in a performance that would have fit perfectly within pica’s annual time-based-art festival.  it wasn’t pretty, but it was utterly fascinating: i say bravo to the brave artistic vision that delivered something so uniquely original and so shockingly bold to an unsuspecting classical crowd.  and before we put a bow on this blog post: extra-special beavertail salutes go out to karen’s oboe of love and carol’s piano of fury ~ what a treat!

exit through the gift shop – part III

in a program completely devoid of expected overtures, predictable symphonies, and traditional concertos, it seemed fitting the band got to perform a true rarity last weekend: music from a composer who is [wait for it…] still alive!  that’s right, 80-year-old sofia gubaidulina is alive and well and living in hamburg.  it’s worth noting that the composer came of age in the censor-happy soviet republic, and during her studies at moscow’s conservatory, the 20-something sofia was encouraged by a certain professor dmitri shostakovich to “continue down her mistaken path.”  gubaidulina clearly took the coded compliment and ran with it, spending a lifetime creating curiously mystical music using über-uncommon instrumental combinations.  monday night’s fantastical fairytale poem at the schnitz was no exception, offering an opportunity for folks to describe the music as fingernails on a blackboard and sincerely intend the comment as a flattering remark.  upon returning from intermission, guest maestro cee-miggz lovingly introduced the piece by sharing the story that inspired the composition – essentially an existential version of the little chalk who could written by shel silverstein’s czech doppelgänger.  os concertmaster peter frajola helped to keep the intimate chamber ensemble tight, leading his small battalion of strings through an eerie intro that sounded downright mahlerian.  for the next 12 minutes or so, the band presided over a quiet prayer punctuated by moments of despondency and apathy, quite beautiful and quite strange.  big beavertail salutes go out to carol hammering it out on the steinway, yoshinori wailing it on the clarinet, and jessica totes blowing it up on the flute.  i’ll never hear anything like it again.  amen.

slippery when wet – part II

remember that (admittedly ridiculous) lightsaber fight scene in star wars: episode II – attack of the clones where master yoda opens up a can of jedi whoop-ass right in count dooku’s face?  i believe there are some haydnesque metaphors in there [i’m picturing a white-wigged composer shuffling past Ludwig, johannes, and gustav, muttering something like: step aside boys, lemme show you how it’s done.]  the entire length of joe “papa” haydn’s thirty-ninth symphony (outta 104!) might be half the span of a single mahler movement, but who the eff cares?!  it’s not how big your piece is, it’s how you play it.  and when maestro carlos is on the podium, watch out.  several unexpectedly silent breaks are written into the beginning of this score, but at one point, coach kalmar created a pause so pregnant, it started crowning.  and judging by the facial expressions of several musicians, i’m gonna say this rather ballsy move was off the cuff ~ long live classical music improv!  anchored by carol “eighty-eight fingers” rich who rocked it on the harpsichord, the bare-bones band proved that ol’ #39 may be minor in key, but not in significance.  the beaver regrets not giving you guys a standing o.

about the time rimbaud was writing free verse, and redon was smearing dreamy pastel flowers, and nietzsche was challenging objective truth, claude debussy was doing his best to escape papa haydn’s shadow by composing stuff like la mer (for those of you who skipped out on high school french 101, the sea).  and considering the final atonal chord of the piece, i think he did a pretty good job.  don’t get me wrong, though – within the first few minutes, as uncle claude offers his impression of a constantly transforming sway of waves, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the undertow of this beautiful music.  the magnificently loud ending of first section alone commands every hair follicle within earshot to stand at attention – only to leave them aimless and drifting as the sound fades away without triumph.