...and thickets of violins, it could hardly fail to be!

David Williams, of the Charleston Gazette, reviews the National Symphony and shows off some mad musicology skills.

Review: National Symphony delights in Bernstein, Mozart and Dvorak

The National Symphony Orchestra became the first professional orchestra other than the local West Virginia Symphony to play a concert in the Clay Center on Monday.

Wow! Sounds like the Clay Center was a busy place Monday.

Also, commas are your friend.

figure the comma: Mr. Williams, the comma. The comma, Mr. Williams. I know you two will soon be the best of friends.

The National Symphony delivered.

I just like the power in this statement. I don't even want to know what they delivered...but they delivered and that's all that matters.

The principal conductor, Ivan Fischer, led a scintillating performance of Dvorak's Symphony No. 8 in G Major.

Scintillating is nice.

figure scintillating grid: No, really.

The strings were particularly muscular and vibrant sounding.

Muscular and vibrant. And particularly! A magical combination indeed.

With eight basses and a dozen cellos along with 10 violas and thickets of violins, it could hardly fail to be,...

Wait. ...?... How many violins in a thicket?

Also, what's "it"? And "fail to be" what? And again, with the, misuse of, commas.

I assume that you mean "with eight basses and a dozen cellos...the strings could hardly fail to be muscular and vibrant", but...yikes!

This is definitely a sentence construction fail. But I didn't let you finish your sentence...perhaps we'll be saved by a final thought tying it all together.

...but Fischer held them in cohesive precision and the Dvorak was draped in tonal warmth.

Okay, I have no idea what you're referencing, but continuing with my previous logic I think you're saying:

With eight basses and a dozen cellos...the strings could hardly fail to be muscular and vibrant, but Fischer held them in cohesive precision and the Dvorak was draped in tonal warmth.

Something like that, yes? You do realize that this sounds like "muscular and vibrant" playing is in opposition to "cohesive precision" and "tonal warmth"?

Fischer and the orchestra seemed so comfortable in the music that it all seemed spontaneous, as if every moment was new and different. That would be high praise for a work as familiar as the Eighth Symphony.

It would be, but obviously isn't?

You know what, let's just move on. I mean, this is the National Symphony at the historic Clay Center. Surely they'll play something for which they have a knack.

The National Symphony has a knack for American music, and with its name, it had better.

Damn. Did commas steal your lunch money as a child?

May I suggest that you seek the help from one of those people who check your writing for mistakes and comprehension problems.

But back to the comma. Just to review, the comma can be used to:
1. Separate elements in a series
2. Connect two independent clauses
3. Set off parenthetical (or introductory) elements

Your sentence attempts the third of these functions. Which means that the sentence should make sense withOUT the parenthetical information. Let's check, shall we?

The National Symphony has a knack for American music it had better.

Nope. That sentence makes absolutely no sense.

Now, there are several easy ways to fix that sentence, but I'll save you some time and say, "don't". It's just a terrible sentence and not worth saving. Do the honorable thing and just put it out of its misery.

But enough grammar, I promised everyone a sample of your music history chops.

Bernstein's "Three Dance Episodes" from "On the Town" showed that knack agreeably.

Oh, yes, you had set up something about knacks. So Bernstein's "Three Dance Episodes" was agreeably knacked by the National Symphony, but I'm just your average NPR/PBS classical music lover, so I don't know anything about 20th century music. Help me out some will you, Mr. Williams.

The piece is from 1944,...

Hate to cut you off already, but this piece is from 1947. The music for the musical On the Town is from 1944. A small distinction, but an important one I think.

So sorry, do continue.

...when Bernstein was putting together his eclectic style.

I love the word choices here. "Putting together" uniquely illuminates the subtleties of the compositional process. You see, it's a lot like working a puzzle.

So, what were the pieces of the puzzle to Bernstein's "eclectic style"?

So it sounds a bit like Stravinsky ("Petrushka") and Gershwin, The Next Generation,...

I used to love that show...

figure Gershwin: In many ways it's superior but will never be as recognized as the original.

...along with Resphigi (minus the gladiatorial combat)...

Uh huh. [nods in agreement]

Wait. Who?


Never heard of him. This is quite the lesson.

...and Copland's wide prairies of Broadway.

"Wide prairies of Broadway"? This is quite the assortment of obscure references. I guess I need to do some serious research after I finish this post.

Thanks, Mr. Williams. Without you I never would have known that Bernstein put together his style by using pieces of Stravinsky, Patrick Stewart, Resphigi, and Copland's oxymoronic music.

That doesn't detract from the fun.

No, that doesn't.

What? "That"?


Sator Arepo said...

What's the over/under for the critical mass of vibrancy for low strings? Furthermore, can I bet on it in Vegas (or by proxy, through The Intratubes?)

Empiricus said...

It depends. Are they wearing Jeans?

Also, some casinos allow you to place bets on the vibrancy games, usually the older, downtown places. However, the odds are never good enough to make the investment. I'd stick to high school debate over/unders.