Thursday, March 4, 2010

An utterly sanctimonious air reigned during the 95 minute performance last night of a work by Morton Feldman for piano solo. Starting with the pianist's grimaces and other expressive manifestations the audience of about 60 people in a small/midsize theatre felt obligated by a pre-concert admonishment from the management not to disturb anyone with any sound whatsoever. I wasn't the only one stifling yawns, shifts of position, coughs and other natural urges.

All of this was completely beside the point, it seems to me. The pianist is a truly fine pianist who handled a less-than-perfect instrument as well as anyone could have. So what was wrong?

The monotonous aspect of the evening was too much for this listener. Could there really be no humor in this music? Not so from what I heard. But if you start out demanding no reaction from the audience it is hard to imagine anyone daring to laugh. Feldman gives lots of color and many darting shifts of mood to deal with. Where was the response of either the player or the public? Streng verboten, apparently. I wonder, in the name of what?