Friday, May 31, 2013

Microscopic Septet and Classicism

Yes, classicism.  Listening to the Micros' exuberant performance last night at Joe's Pub was heaven.  Each of them was having such a good time and the wit behind every note made for such engaged listening on the part of all assembled!  It made me wish more uptown music was like that!

Not that every note was lighthearted: part of the success of the evening was the fearlessness with which intimacy sang out from individual voices, sometimes in explicit lyricism, sometimes in flashes of digression from the prevailing mood.  It was supremely Haydn-esque, in fact. 

The programming was excellent, the pieces and the players irresistible, and it led to some interesting morning-after insights.  Perhaps Adolphe Saxe invented the saxophone out of protest against the too-clean pitches in vogue during his lifetime:  the flute had become steely; clarinets and oboes, though still made of wood, were crafted to match the modern temperament.  Perhaps it was time to introduce into the modern orchestra a bit of the old edge.  The saxophone is all about edge.

Traction Equals Connection

Listening to some virtuoso musicians is like watching the 6:40 express to Boston whiz past with passengers and crew on board, but definitely not you.

Do we compromise the music by considering the listener?  From the remarkable insights I derive from listeners I think it is the other way around.  Listener feedback has brought about new levels of study and unveiled factors I would never have thought of connecting.

For one thing, the music we play was written in some kind of cultural context with which we are unfamiliar and about which we can only guess.  Locating that music with our own cultural context is a task that has to include the listener since we don't make up a culture all by ourselves.

As it is there is too much of a pianists' culture, rather than a musical one.