Saturday, August 5, 2017

"Cheerless, senseless and overproduced"

Here is my favorite review of the week: Various artists: Re:works Piano review – tiring, tedious and boring:
The most callous kind of crossover saps the integrity of both forms being crossed. Decca – once a stamp of prestige, now part of the Universal label group cashing in on the trend for insipid “neo-classical” – releases the next in its Re:Works series with this grim chillout collection of electronic remixes. Cheerless, senseless and overproduced, it smothers the remaining life out of Pachelbel’s Canon, weirdly straitjackets Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and trashes the maverick surrealist stasis of Satie’s Gymnopédies and Gnossiennes. It’s not new, it is tiring, it is very boring.
After that you really need a taste of it. This is their version of a Gymnopédie by Erik Satie that manages to not only spit on the original but also on the little crossover licks that infest it. Is it possible for music to make you a better person? Perhaps not. But this seems evidence that some musical performances can make you stupider and shallower than you were before.


Will Wilkin said...

Part One (of Blogger's 4,096 character limit)

Bryan, I'm here in solidarity, maybe another word for loneliness, but in essence it just means love of serious music in a world of pop.

But what is serious music anymore? For you, who I assume went to music school and who is obviously highly technically proficient as a player and composer, serious music is centered in the traditions of schooled musicians and composers of our western (Euro-American) culture, and which of course embraces any musicians in today's world who embrace that musical tradition. In shorthand speech and writing, we call it "classical music."

Raised in a family of non-musicians with a father who only dabbled in listening to country music before renouncing the sensual in favor of religious devotion, I wandered into classical music very much on my own, exiting a stupor of rock music and its drug culture, and now in a position of having listened to serious music for 3 decades and collected a thousand CD's and read the liner notes to most of them and enjoyed hundreds of classical concerts and recitals by fortunate geography of living close to the Yale School of Music.

Now surveying my past 50 years and the landscape around me, I'm very lonely here as a lover of classical music. None of my small-town friends appreciate it, nor do my family except for 1 brother who is a Ph.D. married to a Mexican immigrant and himself very much caught up in the political correctness of despising the supposed imperialist racist sexist elitist stature of what, to me, is just the best music from an aesthetic point of view. Luckily my autistic son, who is oblivious to social currents, also recognizes the aesthetic superiority of schooled music that is by shorthand called "classical," and in the course of our hundreds of concerts together we met a few people who we now recognize and socialize with at the intermissions, and , most importantly, made ONE real and BEST friend (to me) who himself graduated YSM decades ago and is today a piano teacher and a very fine pianist (In my opinion).

But since I only picked up the violin 27 months ago, and have no inherent genius or even any special talent, I'm a crude musician at this stage and there seem to be zero other people of my age and situation around me, the only classical musicians are world-class, literally from Asia and all parts of America and Europe and highly schooled and I just can't find anybody to even talk to, much less play with.

So just today I applied to a local Meetup group doing Bluegrass, so I can at least find other adults to play with. Luckily I love bluegrass and old country music, which I recognize as authentic "folk" music made of genuine feeling and love of music and tradition.

Will Wilkin said...

(Part two)

My point? Well I don't have time to click on a contemporary maiming of the piano music of Erik Satie, music I have some acquaintance with and always like, but I guess all I want to leave you with is that "classical music" is becoming a ghetto in a large society of popular music of busy listeners and unschooled performers, and as bleak as that might feel compared to a relatively recent past of aristocratic and church patronage, nonetheless there will endure over the millennia ahead of us a core constituency who will study and practice and patronize and listen to and love the serious music that is historically-informed and committed to the highest aesthetics. But don't expect that to have much or any correspondence with the popular culture, the winds of politics and trends of thought and consumerism. Take heart in the eternal and essential musical truths that will endure in what amounts to the monastic solution for music, at least "our" music, for no doubt it will live on for those who really hear and care about it. It will not be lost, and we must not mourn the tempests and vacillations of the moment of our own lives, but rather take comfort and inspiration from what has been passed to us from long ago and is lovingly translated in our contemporary language and will someday be appreciated by a similar obscure and lonely minority centuries and millennia from now, when the pop music featured on the NY Times website as the counterargument to their understanding of Trump or whatever other soon-to-be-forgotten politician supposedly undermined by an equally soon-to-be-forgotten pop music.

Bryan Townsend said...

Actually, I kind of enjoy a brief exposure to these kinds of musical dreck because they highlight the difference between good music and bad music, between the formulaic and the creative.

In most places, and, I would think, certainly in the immediate environs of Yale University, there is likely to be an amateur chamber music group you could get involved with.

Will Wilkin said...

I will eventually search for exactly that (amateur chamber ensemble), or even someday try to start one via Meetup, but just yet I am not proficient enough. Bluegrass will help me a lot right now, just getting a real sense of rhythm and tone and how to play with others will be big steps for me that I'm ready to take in an informal and supportive atmosphere of bluegrass jamming.