New Music's Overton Window

I was downright excited to see the title of this review!

Young Composers' Style, Form Make Good Match
Lynn Green, Columbus Dispatch, 10/8/2010

Young composers, eh? Good to see new art being encouraged in Ohio.

The prodigiousness of young composers took the stage Saturday as violinist Vadim Gluzman joined the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra...

That's a pretty big name to bring in to play new music by young, relatively unknown composers. Good show.

...for the "Mostly Mendelssohn" concert at the Southern Theatre.

Oh. Mostly Mendelssohn. Okay.

Well, that's fair; programming unfamiliar works on concerts with well-established repertoire is a time-honored strategy for keeping the blue-hairs and curmudgeons happy while simultaneously promoting more adventurous fare.

The bulk of the concert's length went to Mendelssohn's works,

Right; as implied. And?

...but the program also included works by Alfred Schnittke.


Don't get me wrong, I love me some Schnittke. (He's awesome.)

Figure 1: Alfred Schnittke

But I was promised young composers. Who else was on the program? Someone...young? Or, I don't know...not dead?

Although nearly 100 years separate the two, their innovative styles and use of traditional forms and harmonies makes them an interesting match.

So...nobody? What's up with that?


Gluzman and the orchestra performed Schnittke's Fugue for Violin Solo and Mendelssohn's Concerto in D minor for Violin and String Orchestra as a single unit. These pieces were composed, respectively, at age 19 and 14.

Wait. The concert was music by "young" composers only insofar as both dead men's works were written while they were young?


The soloist and the orchestra played cohesively, combining artistry with technical prowess, and adeptly demonstrated the youthful sophistication of these two well-known composers.

Yeah, that cold sucks. I mean it sounds like a good concert and all; cheers for programming the relatively little-heard Mendelssohn d minor concerto (instead of the ubiquitous e minor warhorse).

But "new music" seems today to mean "written since 1900," and now "young composers" doesn't mean "people writing music who are young right now" either.

At a certain point, the bar is set so low that one isn't worried about hitting one's head so much as banging one's shins.


Empiricus said...

Mostly Mendelssohn? Geez. How 'bout that conversation?

"Uh. What do we do next?"

"How about nothing, and I mean nothing, but Mendelssohn?"

"Hmm. That sounds intriguing. But I'm not sure about the whole thing being music by Mendelssohn."

"Okay, then. What do you suggest?"

"Well, I was thinking we could program something not Mendelssohn, then call the thing 'Mostly Mendelssohn."

"Damn. You're good."