A Completely Compelling Double Dose, Briefly Bestowed

Two quick hits from Mr Cantrell of the Dallas Morning News, two days apart.

First, a word about expectations.

What's the very last piece you'd expect to hear on a Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert?

Hmm. The very last? That's a thinker, right there. Let's see...


Music for 18 Musicians?



A pretty good guess would be Sir Edward Elgar's The Music Makers, a 40-minute piece for mezzo-soprano, chorus and orchestra set to poetry by Arthur O'Shaughnessy.

(The Music Makers)

(For no reason, here is a picture of Elgar that is fun to look at.)

Aw, man. Curses, foiled again! You got me. But I would have guessed Zorn, Xenakis, Reich, or Varese before anything by Elgar. Silly me! Not that it's not an obscure work of overblown English neo-Romanticism, but...the very last piece?

Two days later, a review of Stephen Hough's concert memorializing David Grice:

We would all like to be so warmly remembered as to merit the memorial recital Stephen Hough played Sunday afternoon. Honoring the late David Grice, a beloved Plano piano teacher, Mr. Hough reminded us just how transcendent an experience music can be.

I was just sitting here thinking, "Damn! I wish I could remember how transcendent music can be!". Wait, what? Oh...hyperbole. Right. It is, after all...Chopin...

The slow movement of Chopin's B minor Sonata seemed to inhabit a parallel universe, where time stood still amid aching beauties.

Time stood still...in a parallel universe...surrounded by gorgeous women in pain. Is this...is this H.P. Lovecraft? (click to enlarge)

The cascading accompaniments almost turned to vapor.

Yes, yes, Chopin is ethereal. And cascading.

The whole Chopin sonata was wonderfully personalized, at times feeling – quite appropriately – made up on the spot. The composer's B major Nocturne (Op. 62, No. 1) seemed a dream caught as it drifted by.

And dreamy! Everyone loves Chopin. But wait! There's more!

A very different piece, Aaron Copland's Piano Variations, got a no less compelling performance.

Usually modernist music is not compelling. And, arguably, this is Copland's most modernist piece, as he experiments with (*gasp*) serialism!*

(Copland Piano Variations)

This is craggy but compelling music

Dude, you just typed "compelling" like six words ago. Just sayin'.

This is craggy but compelling music, proving that even tough modernism can have a beating human heart.


Inherent anti-modernism aside (it's craggy and tough, not usually compelling, and inhuman), I think you missed the point of modernism.

The "beating human heart" of "tough modernism" is its casting off traditional modes of expression with the desire to express one's inner...

Ah, crap, I stopped being funny.

And I would've got away with it if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!

*Blogger does not think "serialism" is a word.


Sator Arepo said...

Okay, I missed an umlaut on the "i" at the end of "Synaphai" and the accent ague on "Varese". Someday blogger will catch up to the universe. Sue me. Or make me learn html.

Anonymous said...

Serialism seems like a perfectly cromulent word to me.

Sator Arepo said...

Serialism embiggins the smallest piece.

Empiricus said...

Is that the Chopin Sonata jumping off the collapsing bridge? I always thought that it wore a suit and tie.

Murderface said...

Nice 'stache.

That's all I got.

Verification word: efish
Meaning: The doomedest startup of all the dotcom bubble.