Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Miscellanea

Terry Teachout has a column in the Wall Street Journal on the defenestration of James Levine: Portrait of the Artist as an Unperson. (If you run into the paywall, you can probably access the article by Goggling the headline.)
Meanwhile, Met Opera Radio, the Metropolitan Opera’s Sirius XM satellite radio channel, has admitted that it is no longer broadcasting live recordings conducted by James Levine, who performed at the Met from 1971 until last December, when he was suspended and subsequently fired after an investigation in which the Met claimed to have found “credible evidence” that he “engaged in sexually abusive and harassing conduct toward vulnerable artists…over whom [he] had authority.” 
Few of us like to admit it, but most human beings are impossibly complicated, none more so than artists. You can simultaneously be a great comedian and a sexual predator, a great musician and a pedophile. To argue otherwise is to falsify history, and to falsify history is to dynamite the foundations of reality.
Well, yes. I suppose the urge to rewrite history comes from the imposition of a moral ideology. Do we expose and punish those who offend? Do we conceal and ignore as previous eras did? Do we assert that people can simply have private lives? Do we encourage accusers? I guess the devil is in the details and some offenses are worse than others. Bill Cosby will go to jail, but perhaps James Levine will not. But pity all those artists who performed under Levine's baton who are now also banished from the airwaves.

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Wagner mariachi style? Why the heck not? ARTNEWS has the story: ‘It’s Not Wagner Anymore’: In New Work, Gonzalo Lebrija Updates Composer’s Classics with All-Women Mariachi Band. Read the article for the whole picture, but I think this is an early version of the idea:


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If you weren't anxious before, this might get you there: Compose yourself: The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety.
[Calixto Bieito] explores mental illness in his latest production, a music-theatre collage called The String Quartet’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety. “It’s a kind of poem, a kind of concert,” he says, just off the plane from his home in Basel, when we meet at Birmingham Rep. “I hope it gives people a lot of hope.” 
With a nod to the box office, however, he’s gone for a title that sums up a show in which the Heath Quartet will play angsty Ligeti, while four actors draw on texts ranging from WH Auden’s The Age of Anxiety to Byung-Chul Han’s The Burnout Society. “The show is not just about anxiety disorder,” he says. “It is also about existential thinking and music, which is a very important part of my whole life.”
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Over at The New Yorker, Alex Ross delivers a review of two younger generation harpsichordists: The Rebel Harpsichordists.
A new generation of harpsichordists is coming to the fore, one that has given an almost hipsterish profile to an instrument that is popularly stereotyped as archaic and twee. The Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani has started beefs with early-music eminences and adopted such provocative repertory as Steve Reich’s “Piano Phase.” The young French keyboardist Jean Rondeau plays jazz on the side. These performers have room to mature, but their recent concerts and recordings—both with an emphasis on the Goldbergs—suggest that the venerable harpsichord, which Landowska called “the roi-soleil of instruments,” will have a long future.
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Israeli composer recently wrote a piece for solo violin titled Half Tiger, Half Poet. Here is a performance by 18-year-old Armenian violinist Diana Adamyan.


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How about some solo violin music by Bach for our envoi today? This is Hungarian violinist Kristóf Baráti playing the prelude to the E major partita:


5 comments:

Marc said...

The Bieito concert might work, I imagine: the spoken word attenuating some of the implacable nightmarishness of the String Quartets-- although I didn't see which Ligeti is being performed. And, in any event, at least I won't have gone to the theatre to hear Mozart only to be unable to do so because there's too much Bieito-staged nakedness, depravity, violence, or whatnot happening.

Have listened to Esfahani's recording of Reich's Piano Phase, a wonderful experiment, very difficult to not listen to, once begun, but I prefer two pianos. I had forgotten all about it, but there was a great scandal at Cologne a couple of years ago when Esfahani's performance of this Reich piece was interrupted. Deutsche Welle's page is here.

Bryan Townsend said...

Have you listened to Ligeti's harpsichord piece Continuum?

Marc said...

Well, n o w I have, yes. It enjoys the virtue of brevity, anyway. I wonder that I can more easily listen to twenty minutes of Reich's harpsichord and tape but find Ligeti's four minutes to be more or less just repetitively tiresome. But do now know that he also composed for barrel-organ and metronome.

Will Wilkin said...

I am pretty mad at Sirius XM radio Met Opera for banishing all James Levine performances from their broadcast. The more I heat the everything else they play, the more in comparison I appreciate just how good those performances were.

Bryan Townsend said...

At the very least, it is a terrible loss to all the performers that appeared in these recordings who are innocent of any wrong-doing.