If you're like me and you've attended more than a handful of concerts in the past several years, you'll have noticed a trend toward the standing ovation for each and every piece performed. To me this is mostly a ridiculous fad that smacks of the audience congratulating themselves on attending a classical music concert. However, despite my cynicism, it's hard to begrudge an audience wanting to fully impart their joy and appreciation to the musicians on stage.
Although, never before have I heard the music accused of denying an audience their god-given right to the standing ovation.
Madison Symphony Features Cellist
Wow, snappy title.
Madison audiences are known for the generosity of their standing ovations...
...I know this is probably just me, but this is so condescending -- towards who I'm not exactly sure...
-- but, sometimes, it's hard to know when to stand.
I know. It really bites doesn't it? I mean, audiences already have so much to keep track of with respect to their applause.
How many movements? Are those movements performed without breaks? Is there a soloist? It's really enough to drive one to a fit of coughing or loudly crumpling their program in nervous anticipation.
Friday, for example,...
Excellent, an example.
...the Madison Symphony Orchestra featured cellist Ralph Kirshbaum, who played a haunting 22-minute piece, "Schelomo Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra" by Ernest Bloch, which ends in a long lamentation, one so somber that even the composer said "this work alone ends with complete negation, but the subject demands it."
Oooo...that is a tough call. The standing O for the somber lamentation? Man, how dare that orchestra put that kind of pressure on an audience while their community-wide sonic, choreographed love sits bursting at the seams.
A work of music that ends with "complete negation" is not the kind of thing that brings an audience to its feet, not matter how brilliantly the artist plays.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
So, when Kirshbaum finished, about half the audience at Overture Hall rose for the customary ovation and the other half seemed to wonder what to do.
So maybe music that ends with "complete negation" is the kind of thing that brings 50% of people to their feet. Learn something new everyday.
I mean, they only get one chance to show their appreciation. It's not like he's playing another piece.
His next work was Antonin Dvorak's "Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra," which got off to a little bit of an awkward start as Kirshbaum and MSO Music Director John DeMain walked back onto the stage,...
Oh, wait. He's coming back for more? The audience must be so confused.
...walked back onto the stage, only to have DeMain peel off and go back to the wings before admitting he didn't have the music. It was one of those great non-musical moments you share only if you attend the live performances.
But, what of the whole standing ovation fiasco? How was the situation resolved? Without violence I hope.
None of this is to detract from Kirshbaum, who played brilliantly. It's just that the music sometimes gets in the way of tradition.
Fucking music. Seriously, where does it get off?
When he finished the first half of the program, the audience had no problem at all rising as one to applaud him through several bows.
Whew. It's nice when things work themselves out, and everyone is able to just forget the unpleasantness that followed the Bloch.
By the way, the second half the concert "featured" Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony with many "familiar tunes" and an excellent time was had by all. A standing ovation followed the performance.