Ursa Major, Minor, and Augmented

We haven’t heard from Anne Midgette in while, so I thought, “What’s she been up to?”


I. In a Violinist’s Hands, The Masters Come Alive

Think Russian violinist, think high-profile recital debut at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, and you might think words like soaring, singing, flashy, fireworks.

At least she didn’t say, “bear.” If I had a nickel for every time a critic called a Russian performer a bear...

...I’d have ten billion-million-thousand-plex dirt-blackened nickels. Ugh. Anyway, thank you Anne for abstaining from the offensive “bear” connotation.

So far, so good.

You probably wouldn't think smoky, subtle, nuanced and understated.

It is said of us islanders, that we take our time to make friends, but when we do it’s for life...

Well, if you love Laphroaig you’ll understand.

But that was how the star violinist Vadim Repin began his overdue Washington recital debut, in the Debussy Violin Sonata, on Saturday afternoon.

To clarify: he began his overdue recital like a scotch whiskey.

Okay. I’m down. This could go places. And, to boot, I like scotch.

Repin slipped into the piece as if the music were a mantle, not a vehicle, something that shaped his appearance, rather than showcasing it.

This makes sense; I like it. But, I must reiterate: The Detritus Review is a no cape zone, period. We will not tolerate the advocacy of capes in any shape or form. Not even as metaphors. They are vulgar, pompous and a waste of the sheep, spiders and baby seals killed to make them.

Still, I want to hear more scotch and/or alcohol metaphors.

The music of the first movement was as soft and raspy and prickling as cigarette smoke: quintessentially Gallic, emphasized by little Satie-like punctuations [by the pianist].

I guess we left the scotch thing behind. (sigh)


II. From Russia, With Languor

What else ya doin’, Anne?

Valery Gergiev's right hand inhabits a world of its own. Most conductors' hands work independently of each other, but the very fingers of Gergiev's right hand appear to be on separate tracks, pursuing thoughts and ideas within the music that are not necessarily even audible. The hand supplies its own subtext.

That’s very observant, even if it has little to do with the music.

It dances, mesmerizing and odd, like a peculiarly agile crab.

...moving on...

In [Prokofiev’s] "Romeo and Juliet," the playing seesawed between mastery and routine. The winds' entrance with the love theme at one point sounded like a yawn, and the concertmaster, far from embodying the romantic ideals about Russian violinists,

...of Russian violinists?

...played peremptorily in a couple of his solos. Offering a whole act of this piece, rather than the more familiar concert excerpts, is a mixed blessing; you get the dramatic integrity of the work but also fewer highlights and slower pacing.

Now, I’m not sure that this is more Anne or me, but this seems to be a symptom of some kind. Of what? I’m not sure.

Point: Why is it that the journey is no longer the reward? That is, if a work is long and has few climaxes (highlights, memorable tunes; call ’em what you will), why is it often less rewarding than a short piece with lots of memorable doohickeys? Seems to me that many would say that the reward in Beethoven’s music is the journey; the journey rewarded with the coda. In the case of an extended concert version of “Romeo and Juliet,” aren’t you, as an audience member, being given extra context, with which you can appreciate the increasingly sparse highlights a little more?

Even Gergiev's right hand was subdued, by the end, into something approaching conservatism.

...a conservatively agile crab.


III. ‘The System’s’ Star

If Mozart had been in the hands of a publicist, he might have talked like Gustavo Dudamel.

In English, with a Spanish accent?

The thrillingly gifted 27-year-old conductor is the hottest property in classical music at the moment.

...like a dancing bear, perhaps?


Sator Arepo said...

Sorry, E, old chum.

The Scots spell "whisky" without an "e".

Yes, yes, quite so, Punjab, etc.

Empiricus said...

I drink it; I don't spell it.