Monday, April 10, 2006

A love letter...

Okay, so I'll say it.

eigth blackbird is a good thing. It's always a good thing to have an ensemble out there playing the music about which they feel passionately for an audience that enjoys it.

Hmm...Now, about that music. Much of it is just trash. The only thing that made several of the pieces sufferable was the fact that they were running around stage like some damned circus performers. Guys, I understand that you're trying to connect an audience to what's going on compositionally with the piece. Why don't you just pick better repertoire and make sure the take care of that highlighting sonically? If the piece isn't good enough without your choreography, it isn't good enough.

And about one piece in particular: Frederic Rzewski's Les Moutons des Panurge. Oh dear...What were you thinking? I, being an uppity clarinet player myself, was confounded by the manner in which you played this. Why bother to credit Rzewski at all? The storytelling was great, but your explanation of the performance directions were pure BS. The piece, as originally intended, was a disentigration of the unison based on the mistakes of the players that night in that performance. Orchestrating how everyone gets off the main tune and then composing a central section is just nonsense. While you're at it, take a look at the tempo marking for the start and the steady accelerando throughout the entire piece. That would be much harder than just playing it fast. Of course, that would require more adherence to the composer than to your own whims.

Yes, I understand that Rzewski essentially gives carte blanche to performers in a later note for the piece. That, however, does NOT okay the artistic fraud that you perpetrated on this Cambridge audience. You should be ashamed of yourself.

The highlight of the program for me: Thierry De Mey's "Musique de Tables" (1987). This particular pieces deserves to be played/performed and often. It's consistently interesting/lovely/amusing and I hadn't even heard of it before. Thank you for performing it and performing it very convincingly.

The Higdon "Zango Bandango" (2002) gave the kids an opportunity to flex their technique, but it's a shame the piece is not worth the effort. I'm speaking as a great lover of cheese when it comes to music, but this wasn't even good fluff. Just a waste of time. They played with quite a bit of precision, though.

The bottom line: These guys perpetrate their act very well, but it's an act that seems specifically designed to obscure mediocre talent playing mostly throwaway tunes. Spend more time choosing your repertoire and then spend more time in the practice room. Just bringing a damned saw onstage isn't going to endear you to my heart.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wish i could disagree with you.

4/15/2006 11:07:00 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Oh lord, I wish I could disagree with myself. Sadly, my position on this has only become more so with the passage of time. I initially sat on this review for a while just in case a cooler head would prevail. Instead, I was more and more saddened by what I had seen/heard.

4/16/2006 11:18:00 AM  

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