29 January 2009

carnegie hall tonight

We don't often get drama mixed with our music at Carnegie Hall. At tonight's "Making Music: Peter Eötvös" concert, we got some drama. Before the second piece started, a cellphone sounded and someone said "I don't believe it." Another chirped and the same voice groaned. Someone else said "shut up." That's kind of low drama. Then in the middle of the last section of the third piece, a woman clomped down the side aisle to the front row. As she started clomping, I thought it was part of the percussion but then she came into view. Since the piece was based on Samuel Beckett's radio play Embers, it was vaguely possible that it was part of the work. As the applause started, the woman stood up, put on her coat, and started taking bows. The musicians were professionally oblivious of her shenanigans. I went out into the lobby for intermission and when I returned to my seat, the woman was in a heated argument with several of the ushers and house managers. They finally led her out, and speculation and disbelief reigned up in the balcony of Zankel Hall. The second half of the concert went on without interruption ... except for the trains.

Oh, the concert. It was very interesting. I was not familiar with Eötvös's music but I really liked some of it. And Tara Helen O'Connor played flute and piccolo in a couple pieces; I've heard her four or five times this season and I really like her playing. This wasn't my favorite but it was good. "Shadows" is a wonderful play of reflection, as the title suggests. The instruments talked to each other: snare drums to tympani, solo flute and clarinet to the ensemble. Eötvös conducted three of the six works and played piano in another. My favorite work was probably the second: "Encore," a string quartet. Neo-romantic, it wasn't especially challenging but it was beautifully played. The last piece "Snatches of a Conversation" included text spoken/sung by Barbara Hannigan and solo double-bell trumpet by Brandon Ridenour.

"Derwischtanz" was pretty wonderful pictorially as well as musically. Three clarinetists stood in circles of light and turned as they played. The sound changed as they turned. As they left the stage, I noticed that the three women, all dressed in black, had three different necklines: circle, square, triangle. Bauhaus perhaps. Each also carried her clarinet in a different way from the others. I didn't determine if the shapes and the positions were related.

The text of "Snatches" reminded me a bit of Laurie Anderson but Eötvös uses the text as color more than to tell a story as Laurie Anderson would. When Elaine and I were talking in Boulder about her and her husband's trips to Central America, Elaine said "huipiles" and that reminded me of a narrative piece that Anderson does about being in Mexico. I wanted to share it with Elaine and was lucky enough to find "The Ugly One with the Jewels" at Bart's used CD/record shop on the Pearl Street Mall. I'm not absolutely sure that that's the CD with the "huipile" song but it's good. It's now on the stereo so I'll know in a while.

1 comment:

bklynbiblio said...

OMG, the interruptions are too much! Hilarious, and yet sad at the same time.