I love reading reviews of open-mindedness and personal discovery. Where the world of art and music grows just a little bit bigger, and everyone learns an important lesson. Thus was the case for Dorothy Chen in the Columbia Daily Spectator.
Never before have I seen the struggle for acceptance of new music so perfectly capsulized.
Review: Closing Concert of Carnegie’s China Festival
Something very odd happened at Carnegie Hall tonight. Of the two pieces performed by the Shanghai Symphony, the first received a standing ovation, the second a couple of forced hand claps.
This is odd. In my recent experience, no matter how terrible the orchestra plays, the crowd erupts into standing ovations.
I wonder what piece got the shaft? I hope it's something by Édouard Lalo...I hate that guy.
The night began with Lang Lang’s performance of the time-honored Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff.
Nothing like "time" as the ultimate judge of the value of a piece of music.
Despite it being one of my favorite piano pieces, I was immediately disappointed by the opening of tonight’s performance. It literally felt like a jumbled mass. It was as if the musicians are coming in cold and need some time to warm up, to become comfortable with each other’s sound.
Literally felt like a jumbled mass.
Literally? I guess if it was literal, it begs the question what a jumbled mass is exactly.
Let's ask Google images.
But after getting through a more-or-less rough start, the scattered sounds began to co-exist harmoniously.
What a powerful message about love and peace, man.
This transition came about at the end of moderato, as if the musicians have suddenly found their sparks.
As a composer myself, that's always where I hide my sparks as well.
Henceforth, the performance became much more enjoyable. In the end, Rachmaninoff’s coda in C was what saved tonight’s performance from mediocrity. It completely eased any discomfort I had about the beginning. Judging from how the quality of this concerto has evolved in the mere 33 minutes of its performance, I for one believe a standing ovation to be well-deserved.
Wow...lots of extraneous words in that paragraph. But more importantly, the plot thickens. We know that one piece "received a standing ovation", and the other "a couple of forced hand claps."
At first I was worried that the time-honored Rachmaninoff would only get a few forced claps. Whew. It'll have to the next piece.
...I wonder what it could be? I hope it's by Michael Haydn...I hate that guy.
Ahh, good...a smoke break
...15 wasted minutes later...
Okay, we're back. So what composer's pile of puke awaits only a couple of forced hand claps? I hope it's by H. Owen Reed...I hate that guy.
Then came eminent composer Chen Qigang’s “Iris dévoilée”.
Eminent composer Chen Qigang? Damn. I only like my composers to be pre-eminent. Surely this can't be the piece that will suck ass....it's not by Louis Spohr. (I hate that guy.)
This piece, if described positively,...
well, don't go out of your way or anything...
...is a portrayal of the universal female archetype in nine movements;...
...just like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, if I read my Susan McClary correctly...
or, if spoken of negatively,...
If you speak positively of something, it seems only fair to speak negatively of it as well...
...intervals of piquant female screams separated by much-needed silences specially designed for disgruntled audience members to flee the scene (many of whom did preciously that).
I've never heard this piece before, but this sounds fair and balanced to me.
Chen Qigang, having studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in China, moved to France at the age of 33 to study with Olivier Messiaen, a composer of contemporary music. Hence, much of Chen Qigang’s repertoire could be placed under the category of new music,...
"new music"...? What's that? Let's ask Google images!
But could it be...
I guess I would have thought that it was music that was actually recently composed. But I guess it's more complicated than that. What did studying with Messiaen do to her music?
...as they sometimes evoke emotional extremes.
Her music was bi-polar? That does sound dreadful. All that damned emotion in her piece. When will composers learn that people just hate it when their compositions have emotional content and meaning? Jeez.
But that's still a bit lacking in terms of a definition. I think an anecdote would help straighten us out.
A catharsis of sorts, as shown by the old lady who sat two seats away from me, who began to laugh hysterically midway through the piece. Other than this interesting fact...
Wait...what interesting fact? That one old lady laughed? Yeah, I guess you're right...that is interesting. Can't wait to call Sator.
...though, “Iris dévoilée” was quite poorly received tonight.
Facing these two vastly different receptions, it becomes difficult to comment on the concert as a whole.
Come on. Give it a try.
But I will say this: If the aim of this closing event was to act out the name of the China festival “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices”, then the programming did a wonderful job juxtaposing the traditional with the new.
Exactly, by juxtaposing a great work of music with this piece of shit, they did a wonderful job of putting traditional and new together.
However, if Chen Qigang’s piece was included as a representation of the Chinese music scene, then the audience was misled.
I didn't realize that you were an expert on the Chinese music scene. As someone who isn't, who would be an appropriate representation?
For such a depiction would be the equivalent of taking John Cage to be a prime example of “American music”, if such a thing even exists.
Yeah! Fuck John Cage! (I hate that guy sooooo much.)