Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Last night I attended an entire concert of works by a contemporary composer whose work I usually find most uninviting. It is against my principles to attend concerts devoted exclusively to the work of a single composer, even if Bach, Chopin, or Mozart. I do make exceptions: Helmut Walcha playing all-Bach, Rubinstein all-Chopin--wouldn't miss it. For all-Mozart I recall Horszowski recitals with great pleasure.

Last night was Ralph Shapey. I went because the event was conceived, planned, and in part performed by someone who loves his work. The extraordinary violinist Miranda Cuckson plays this music as if she wrote it herself. The players she recruited to join in the evening were clearly as devoted to the project as she is.

The result was that the audience seemed to agree (based on after-concert chat) that this composer had not over-stayed his welcome. It was, by the way, an audience that included professionals as well as non-musicians who came out of curiosity.

Here was a good example of a performer living up to the tremendous responsibility of making the music come alive.

I did not expect to like it. I had a great time.