I'm here for Microwave Cookery

On a “musical thrill-ride” of a concert where “fistfuls of piano notes” were “pitted against [a] full-throttle orchestra” in front of “1,941 concertgoers” and…well, no less than the “interaction of such electrifying sonic events with our senses invigorate(d) and inspire(d), providing sustenance for both body and soul,” the Springfield Symphony Orchestra performed Gershwin (yeah!) and Rachmaninoff (double yeah!!). 

Concert review: Springfield Symphony Orchestra shines with Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto

Clinton Noble Jr., April 14, 2013, The Republican (MassLive.com)

But wait, there's more!

The meat in the expatriate sandwich (as it were)…

I’m not sure Gershwin could be called an expatriate because of, you know, the definition of the word.



...Walter Piston's...

Whoa? Who the fuck is Walter Piston? 

figure Walter Piston:  "I'll give you a TKO from Tokyo!"

...was Walter Piston's Fourth Symphony, penned in 1950 for the centenary of the University of Minnesota, and as American as apple pie.

If it weren't for the pure Rachmaninoffian awesomeness on the second half, I know I'd be long gone.  I've got a connection to the interwebs...let's see what I can find out.  

Well, first, Walter Piston actually lived in France for over 2 years.  I don't know why I care about this expatriate meme, but I just do.

And (b), his symphony is “American as apple pie”?  Because he’s an American?  Does this mean I'm going to like his symphony?  Because, you know, Harry Partch was born in America too.  In fact, his music began a complete rejection of European concert tradition (or so Wikipedia tells me).  What could be more apple pie-ish than that?

I really don't know what to think.  My gut is telling me that this Piston piece is music I've never heard, and therefore awful.  But my brain is confused by your American comment.  America is the greatest country god ever gave man, but on the other hand there's Eric Whitacre.  

 figure gift:  The greatest music god ever gave America.  

Unfamiliar American composer…it just doesn't add up.

Rhodes gave a brief spoken introduction to the piece and played its opening theme, marked “Piacevole,”…

I don't know...'piacevole' doesn't sound very Merican to me.

…or “pleasing” by the composer, before giving a scrupulously rehearsed and deeply expressive reading of the entire work.

Sounds quite punctilious.  But I guess I’m still hung up on this "I've never heard of him" thing.  

“I know when audiences see a composer they don’t recognize on the program, they think ‘Oh, no! what’s this going to be like?’” Rhodes admitted.

Thank you.  That's what I've been trying to say.  Let's just put some Beethoven on this concert and be done with it.

Piston offered nothing scary to the concertgoer, Rhodes further quipped,…

Scary? As in American, or not-American?

figure book: Chapter 1: Don't Write Scary Music

…adding that he doesn't play “scary” pieces because he doesn't like them, either.

Yeah.  Who the fuck likes “scary” pieces?

Light-hearted as that sentiment might seem on the surface, it is a very telling commentary on the excesses of the previous century.

Or the biases of narrow-minded musical midgets.  Wait…was that uncalled for?

Nope, you’re probably right.  Those asshat 20th century composers totally ruined music.  If I don’t recognize the name of the composer (gasp!) then who knows sort of unclean sounds could enter my virginal ears.

Indeed, as Rhodes asserted, works by Piston and other Americans like him, Hanson, Schuman, Thomson, et al., became eclipsed by the music of the intelligentsia and the academic avant garde, and never achieved the recognition that their content and construction merited, because they were perceived as appealing, therefore populist, and second-rate.

Their awesome music was eclipsed by the awful music that no one likes?  How on earth did that happen?

Rhodes and the SSO are shedding long overdue daylight on some terrific music that is as exciting to listen to as it is to play, and their 21st-audience is grateful.

I know there's a lesson here about not judging the music of composers you're unfamiliar with, but...


Sator Arepo said...


Gustav said...

Is Piston Honda crapping out Bald Bull?

Sator Arepo said...

That's not anywhere near as disturbing as the Faith Tones (or their hair).

Gustav said...

I'm pretty sure that's John Cleese on the right.