Saturday, May 23, 2009

About last night...

... with a little remixing, some of this could be kinda good!

Last night, I got to go see a new piece by local composer Mason Bates. I've written before about a performance of his lovely Sirens, written for Chanticleer. And I've seen two of his pieces performed at the Cabrillo festival in years past. (One wonderful, the other "just a[lr]ight, dawg!")

This one, too, was just alright for me, though I'd like to hear it again. Here is a bit of the last of five mostly-unrelated movements, performed by the YouTube orchestra:

Though there is no evidence of it in that video, the percussionists really got a workout in this piece. They played all sorts of things, including a typewriter and a broom. My favorite bit was when a xylophone, a marimba, and a glockenspiel were all playing at the same time. You don't see that everyday!

In the pre-performance talk, Bates talked about the differences between performing in a club (as DJ Masonic) and writing for the symphony. He said he feels that a strong beat, greatly appreciated in a club, gets tiresome in a concert hall. To some extent that is true. I don't want a constant disco beat with my symphonies. At least not usually. But the after-intermission piece, Prokofiev's 2nd Piano Concerto, has a pretty constant beat throughout each movement, and it is invigorating.

Yuja Wang (Wáng Yǔjiā) was the pianist. And it was a fiery performance. It really got the audience on their feet. So much power in such a little body. Oh how I wish I could play like that! Or even play like she could probably play at age 5.

Yuja Wang - Prokofiev Piano Concerto 2, Mvt. 4.

After the show, they turned the top-floor lobby into a little club with DJ Masonic spinning his platters and seamlessly (so they said) segueing into acoustic performances of pieces: Call by Berio, The Light Within by John Luther Adams, Calm like a Bomb by Jesper Nordin, and ending with Steve Reich's classic Eight Lines. The keyboard part in that looked much harder than it sounds!

As with the other pieces, they began playing Eight Lines while the DJ was still spinning. The effect was something like this:

Remember how when I wrote about Sirens, I got May and June confused? Well, this time I got the Sibelius 4th confused with something else. I went to this show in part because I thought the Sibelius 4th was one of my favorites. It isn't. I was confusing it with one of his others. The 4th is odd. The pre-performance talk, program write-up, and MTT's little intro all basically said the same thing: not very many people like this one because it is slow, depressing and goes nowhere. Actually, it isn't bad at all, but certainly isn't the one I thought it was.

Incidentally, the first person I ran into at the show was my neighbor R. I had no idea, but she apparently has been working there for 20+ years. She said that if I ever need a ticket I should just ask her. So perhaps there will be more posts like this to come, provided, of course, that they offer more programs like this one.

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