In a small, but musical, community a pick up orchestra performed Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. It's a difficult work for even the most esteemed orchestras, what with its lack of clean, clear solos, spice-less phrasing, and the preponderance of multimeasure notes.
The work is forged from four movements actually praised for their dance attributes,...
I know, pssh...
figure 1: Beethoven composing a symphony. And saving the universe from, oh, let's say Juggernaut?
But what does it mean?
...meaning it’s nearly impossible not to shake your head or sway at some point.
That actually sounds true.
The grandly dark second movement even lends itself to headbanging, if you’re channeling ‘80 rock culture.
figure 2: The perfect analogy.
The woodwinds gifted the piece with clean, clear solos, and the flutes shot deliciously peppery phrases into the third movement. Its ubiquitous timpani sounded like loads more fun to play than it must have been. What's not to like about that description about the otherwise bland, yet arduous 7th symphony.
A dozen violins and about nine of the lower-registers were making lush music, throwing phrases from upper to lower and holding a marathon multimeasure note behind the other sections in the final movement.
In case that was unclear, the lush throwing music is right after the end of the beginning of the middle.
The secondary theme of the Second Movement seemed to pose a few challenges in tone for the violins. Still, this section sailed through the treacherous finale so nimbly and happily the uninitiated would never know this isn’t a standing orchestra with a full schedule.
figure 3: Happily the uninitiated would never know that he's not fingering a real chord.
Sounds like a pretty incredible performance. And for a pick-up orchestra! Is there some sort of outrageous claim you can make that will perfectly sum it all up? We have heard this symphony live three times in the last four seasons — once from the Los Angeles Philharmonic — and this stands with the best of them. Of course it does. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Do yourself a favor and read the entire article which includes gems like "...and each of its parts deserves to be savored, if only for 10 seconds, in our mental echo chambers."
The task of the music critic is difficult, far beyond mere description and assessment. Yet, when those fail, the rest fails. As the public’s first line of reception and dissemination, critics have a double responsibility, to both the public and to the musical community at large. The deleterious effects of mischaracterization and prejudice (or laziness) contribute to a “classical” stereotype that is wholly incongruent with the reasons we continue to believe in and love the music we love. To seek correction is only natural.
We understand that the role of today’s critic is rapidly changing. Through humor and snark, we seek to provide a dialog, at once humbling, amusing and inviting, out of which may emerge positive critical perspectives and alliances that can benefit the health of our beloved musical climate.
We would not be of use, dear Detritusites, without your thoughtful comments, retorts or corrections. So please take part in our experiment.