Simile of the Week...

Prepare yourselves. The mysteries of Impressionism are about to be revealed to you.

Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, of the Grand Rapids Press, illuminates us in his review of the opening night concert of the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Grand Rapids Symphony opens season with masterful performance

Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky wrote his Symphony No. 4 at a particularly difficult time in his life, when he was uncomfortable with his past, unhappy with the present, uncertain about his future.

I couldn't imagine a better summary. Also, Tchaikovsky was a person. He lived and died, and he knew other people. They also lived and died, or so he believed. Stuff often happened. He once ate a pickled egg -- he thought it smelled like intestinal gas.

So anything particularly relevant about his uncertainty and writing of the Fourth Symphony? Or were you just saying?

The very piece for the Grand Rapids Symphony to open its 80th season on Friday in DeVos Performance Hall.

Oh. I get it. The Grand Rapids Symphony is uncomfortable with its past, unhappy with the present, and uncertain about the future...just like Tchaikovsky.

What an odd way to start a review...

The Grand Rapids Symphony started it's 80th season in a foul mood, not particularly hopeful about the future.

The orchestra had the same rough patch the rest of us did last year. Money is tight, cuts have been made but a contract has yet to be signed between management and musicians.

An all too familiar story (although, many orchestras have been struggling financially for over a decade). And I'm sure you meant "and a contract has yet to be signed...". Or is this like the NFL next year and they're playing 09-10 season without a salary cap?

One could say all was forgotten at the downbeat Friday of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

I can see that -- Tchaikovsky's piece about his crappy lot in life really lifted the mood.

Music director David Lockington led the orchestra in a masterful performance of might and melancholy. Subtle bits of give and take plumbed the depths of despair, clung fiercely to fleeting moments of hope, soldiered on resolutely.

I do love me some seriously overwrought prose. Did the intrepid Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, with steely resolve, persevere in eating too many burgeoning spoonfuls of Frosted Alpha-bits this morning?

figure hgqyogyyae: This box came with a terrarium?!? Did you have to mail in proof of purchase for the sand and desert creatures?

It was the kind of performance one can’t always count on to open a season following summer vacation.


I’ll leave it to some armchair psychologist to explore the motivations.

Er. Uh. I....
Why not leave it to a real psychologist? Is lackluster performance really so dire that therapy is needed?

In any case, no armchair psychology here...then what are you here for Mr.

My task is to say the music was all that one would wish for.

Ah. That is a tough job you've got there. What a ringing endorsement.

And why bring up things that aren't your tasks, Mr. Kaczmazrzarzczyzk? Were you also there not to play viola? Or not to clean the toilets?

The orchestra, somewhat super-sized for this program, was its own guest artist to open its 80th anniversary season for an audience of 1,248.

"...was its own guest artist..."? I hope the symphony sprang for a nice hotel downtown, and not that seedy Extended Stay America under the overpass.

And 1248...that's an awfully specific number. At least he didn't say "...for an audience of at least 1,248." I hate when people do that.

Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and the rest of the German giants had the night off.

First one in over 148 years, six months and 14 days. I wonder how they decided to spend this unexpected free time...

figure 1: Maybe.

figure 2: Beethoven did like to spend a little extra time lounging in bed...

figure 3: I think so. Pastor Muckenfuss was very kind to lend them the church van.

Okay, so the Germans had the night off, and...

Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel are called Impressionists, which tells you little.

Or quite a bit if you know anything about art or music.

But onto the reason why we're here...THE SIMILE OF THE WEEK!!!

Their music sounds less like neighbors than that of two people who see each other only now and then.

Clearly. Couldn't have put it better myself. The music of Impressionists are casual acquaintances. Thank god you're here to explain these things to us Mr. Kzzzaczmazrzarzarzczyzzzzk.

"Two people who see each other only now and then"? Maybe he means they were chums, or cronies? Colleagues? Sympathizers, compadres, associates, contemporaries? Or perhaps these people were well-wishers?

figure moe: "I'm more of a well-wisher. In that I don't wish you any specific harm."

Okay, so now that we understand Impressionists and their music, what of the music on the concert?

“La Mer” might be called a symphony, except that its composer could be counted on to try almost anything except imitation.

Or you could call it a 3-movement symphonic work. Hell, even a tone-poem could be applicable. Or you could cite the full title, La mer, trois esquisses symphoniques pour orchestre, or The sea, three symphonic sketches for orchestra for you Franco-challenged readers.

And symphonies don't try almost everything, and have lots of imitation?

Mr. Kaczmarczyk, your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

But in any case, carry on...




figure 4: Waiting...

figure 5: Still Waiting...

What? That's it? That was the last sentence? Nothing more to add?

Impressionist music sounds like people who nod hello near the mailboxes of their apartment complex, and "La Mer" could be a symphony.

I guess always leave them wanting more.


Sator Arepo said...

"1 Terrariums Inside"


Gustav said...

Ha! I missed that. That's even better. Good eye, SA.

Danny Liss said...

Given the way the article started, I was hoping to read about how the orchestra is secretly gay, but also writing love letters to a Russian Countess. How disappointing.

Sator Arepo said...

Did you mean to use the "International Phoenetic Alpha Bits" or was it just a happy coincidence?

Either way, it's hilarious.

Gustav said...

@ Danny: LOL!

@ SA: None of the standard Alpha-bits boxes came with a Terrariums, so I took a bit of artistic license. Really, who doesn't prefer the International Phonetic version of most products, especially those which come with vivariums for whatever your ecosystem.

Fred said...

Isn't the critic's task to evaluate whether or not the music is what one would wish for and to share his evaluation with us? It's the marketing department's task to say the music was all that one would wish for. (It's also somebody's job to get the preposition off the end of that sentence.)

Also I'm going to name my band Of Might and Melancholy (our first album - "Subtle Bits of Give and Take").

Sator Arepo said...

Well, Fred, I think that one of our little projects here is exactly to ask what the critic's task may/may not be. Certainly evaluation and reporting are part of it.

It seems, though, to depend in no small part on the audiences (at the concert, reading the reviews, &c), and therefore is a great deal more complicated, relative, and fluid than that.

I'd think more, but I can't right now.