Oh crap! My dealine is in ten minutes. Uh... "Less is more!" Sounds good.

Unlike the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Andrew Druckenbrod, I have nothing to do but sit in my basement all day, cheerlessly blogging about bad musical writing, which is why I can generously waste my time, for you, to dissect this whopping 600 word-long pile of steamy... musical clichés, written in just under ten minutes (I’ll bet my Star Wars cards on it, but not Chewbacca).

Great music is often defined by what isn't written as much as what is.

Cliché. Less is more.

An orchestra's near endless sonic possibilities can be a temptation to which composers often succumb.

Already, he’s riffing like Yngwie J. Malmsteen.

This allure often leads to "overwriting" their material, filling in the precious spaces in which the music breathes.

It just goes on and on...

Less is usually more.

...and the clichés keep piling up.

Yesterday's Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra concert at Heinz Hall brought the issue to the fore. Not only did it include Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2, a work whose heavy-handed orchestral writing is leagues away from the ultra-sophistication of his solo piano music, ...

Has anyone ever proven that Chopin sucks at orchestration? Or has it been around for so long that it’s become an old wives' tale? Either way, it’s as familiar as the old adage, “Brahms is dense and Carter is difficult,” from The Art of War.

As enjoyable as it was to hear both pieces under Swiss conductor Charles Dutoit and by Emanuel Ax, I could not help but think just how satisfying it is when composers have the guts to ask for a certain instrument but only use it when they want.

Yngwie J. Malmsteen.

There's no unnecessary extra writing for the trumpets, bass trumpets and tenor tubas (Wagner tubas in these concerts) in "Sinfonietta" just to please their players.

Janacek = not Ygnwie J. Malmsteen

It's about the music.


And what a fun piece "Sinfonietta" is.

Andrew Drukenbrod = not Yoda

The main reason composers selectively use instruments is for color.

Yoda is a fictional character. I breath air. The world is flat. Yngwie J. Malmsteen riffs. Orchestration is the selective use of instruments for color.

And none were better at that than Ravel and Debussy.

By the way, did you hear the one about Chopin? Turns out he couldn’t orchestrate well. That reminds me, did you hear the one about Debussy?

Debussy's "Jeux (Games)" was awash in color, often coming in waves, in a fleeting depiction of a tennis match leading to amorous activity (and to think Maria Sharapova and Anna Kournikova weren't even born then!).

1. Are the quotation marks correct?

2. Did you hear the one about Maria Sharopova and Anna Kornikova? They make appearances in a classical music review about a piece that references tennis and sex.

Dutoit's sensitive conducting alternated between continuous arm movements and abrupt stops, depending on if the work called for surface fluidity or rhythmic underpinning.

But that's the definition of conducting, only more convoluted! Drukenbrod = Stuffit Expander.

That Dutoit continues to be a master of the French repertoire was abundantly clear.

Drukenbrod = Yoda?

Ax's light attack not only fit Chopin's phrasing for the pianist, but lent the concerto an improvisatory spirit (I could swear he gave a few extemporaneous flourishes, too). The only downside was it further exposed Chopin's stilted writing for orchestra.

No. Drukenbrod = Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Clearly the best parts of this work occur when the pianist plays.

Clearly the best part of this review is when the reviewer reviews.

Ax substituted for Alfred Brendel three weeks ago. It would be a shame not to hear him again for a while.

Less is more.


Empiricus said...

Almost forgot. Check out the "Opera Update" below the article. More baseball fun!

Sator Arepo said...

That picture of Maria is only sort of fun to look at.

Murderface said...

Yngwie Malmsteen, Maria Sharapova, Anna Kornakova, Charles Dutoit, Emanual Ax, and Andrew Drunkenbrod walk into a bar....

The bartender says "Ay, who spilled the alphabet soup!?"


With apologies to Henny Youngman and I guess Don Rickles, I dunno.

I got nothin'.