Useful Applications of The John Cage Brand(tm) Random Comma Distributor

I don’t even know anymore.

This review is clearly full of interest, energy, and passion, which is great:

Concert Review: Chamber Glimmers
Bill Peters, Burbank Leader, 2/26/2010

A little tidying up of the grammar, punctuation, and content would have made for a perfectly cromulent article. So why not have an editor give it a look?

A change of the guard was the order of the evening for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s concert last Saturday at the Alex Theatre.

They’re getting new players? No? New guards?

Conductor Jeffrey Kahane stepped aside in order to allow the depth of talent in the principal chairs from the string and woodwind section to take the spotlight.

So the socialist media spin is that the conductor “let” the principals take over. You know, just for one concert. That’s a slippery slope; sounds like creeping communism to me.

Showing their phenomenal skills were Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, Assistant Concertmaster Tereza Stanislav, principal second violin Josefina Vergara, associate principal second violin Sarah Thornblade, principal cello Andrew Shulman and principal oboe Allan Vogel.

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, I say. So far so good.

All were called on to perform the music of the Baroque era, stretching back nearly 400 years,

From about 1600-1750, more or less, right?

…as well as that of an upstart youngster, Felix Mendelssohn, who wrote a piece emulating the Baroque masters almost 200 years after the era.

Mendelssohn…did what? In 1950?

To explain, the members of the chamber orchestra seated at the first chair of their sections, brought the music of Henry Purcell, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi and Mendelssohn to life in a rather brief concert — the music lasted a mere 60 minutes — but with an impact that left the audience applauding and satisfied.

Wow. I think that sentence fell into a blender.

Figure 1: A food processor is different than a word processor.

The concert opened with a Purcell sort of dance…

A “Purcell sort of dance”? I would have perhaps, grudgingly, accepted “sort-of dance” here, but this just fails. Unless this dance form (chaconne/chacony) is particular to Purcell, which it isn’t. So: what?

…that many call a chaconne, the Chacony in G-minor.

Yeah, those cognates are notoriously tricky to explain. Did you know, for example, that “Francais” means “French” in French?

Leader-violinist Batjer kept the 14-member chamber group assembled from the larger chamber ensemble at a lively pace.

He kept them…assembled at a lively pace? Did anyone read this for content?

Shulman moved to the front of the stage and demonstrated not only exceptional command of his instrument but an alarming ease as he parsed each phrase in a full and gorgeous sound.

It’s curious that it was “alarming” for some reason, but I’ll write it off as evocative hyperbole.

Shulman performed the Vivaldi Cello Concerto in C-minor, a 1728 work that has all the elements of the composer’s famous “Four Seasons” but looms with dark and somber tones in the second movement.

That’s like saying “Goldfinger has all of the elements of the famous previous James Bond films, but with car chases, evil villains, spy gadgets, and witty one-liners.”


Baroque almost wouldn’t have happened without Bach,

That…that’s just stupid. No, sorry, that’s unfair; I take it back. That’s not just stupid. It’s stupid and false.

…and the orchestra included two pieces by the venerated composer — one the Concerto in D-major for Three Violins and the other, the Oboe d’amore Concerto in A-major.

That's all the more impressive because D Minus Major and A Minus Major are widely regarded as extraordinarily difficult keys.

For the Three Violin work, Stanislav, Vergara and Thornblade put on what could only be called a sparkling display of virtuosic performance. Vogel, longtime, and really celebrity oboist with the orchestra...

While I appreciate the internal rhythm inherent in the phrase “Vogel, longtime, and really celebrity oboist…”, it doesn’t change the fact that it makes no goddamn sense.

Is there a John Cage Brand Random Comma Distributor missing in Southern California?

The reviewer clearly has interesting observations and opinions; it just needs a little...editing.

Are there no editors in Southern California?

I have half a mind to quickly assemble a phony Craigslist Los Angeles ad soliciting applications for an editorial position for the arts section at the Burbank Leader.

That, however, seems like fraud, and one of my goals in life is Not Going to Prison.

Here is a picture of John Cage that is fun to look at.

Figure 2: John Cage thinks about commas while performing on a toy piano.


Danny Liss said...

After seeing the line about the Baroque stretching back 400 years, I excited to hear about a rare performance of Guilio Caccinni's work. Poor Purcell; here he is, thinking he can still pull "over 300 years back," and he gets thrown in with the "nearly 400 years back" crowd. Time for him to get a new sports car?

Sator Arepo said...


Also, I thought "stretching back 400 years" made it sound like it was still the Baroque now. Sadly, English lacks a progressive tense without helper verbs.

Gustav said...

One my pet-peeves with so much criticism is this insistent need to remind us that uber-famous composers like Bach and Beethoven, are well, famous. Is it really necessary to tell us that Bach is "venerated"? Which is actually a rather amusing word choice since it is derived from the name of the Roman god Venus who most commonly associated with physical desire and sexual charm, and has thus remained a common association with the word. A small point to be sure, but superfluous adjectives are the crutch of amateur writing.

And "chaconne" is not "sort of" a dance...it IS a dance. It probably originates in Spanish culture prior to the 16th century, but is a popular slow dance of the 18th century in Europe. However, there is a departure in its use by classical composers (as has been the case for almost all concert music use of dance forms) which renders it less functional as dance music. But I hardly think that distinction is illustrated clearly with the phrase "sort of". Fail.

Zach said...

Can I just say, this blog is amazing. Always something fresh.