Sunday, June 16, 2013

Christopher Houlihan: Brilliant Organist

Today I had the pleasure of hearing some of the finest organ playing I have heard in decades.  It was playful, inventive, lyrical, virtuosic, engaging to the max.  I was stunned at how much I enjoyed it and even more stunned to discover that two of the works he played were by Durufle, whose music usually leaves me chilled--another case of how the performer can bring the music to life!

If you have the chance, go hear him.

Our Stupid Poebel

Last night I played Mozart's variations on Unser dummer Poebel meint.  I asked a dear friend in the audience, as she had grown up in Mannheim, to translate this title.  What a good thing I did!  I had always assumed Poebel to be someone's name. My translation would have been: Our Stupid Poebel is of the Opinion.  Turns out Poebel stands for the guy in the street, no not quite, the Lumpenprole.

How politically incorrect can you get.  Then I remember The Good Soldier Schweik, one of the great Poebels of all time: If you haven't read it get on it.  You never do or did know what exactly might be behind the fellow's expressed opinion or behavior.

There is a lot to think about politically.

Musically there is also a lot to think about.  I have never heard anyone play these variations.  I can feel them turning into one of my big numbers.  They are surely Mozart at his fullest virtuosic maturity: How do I know what to do with them?  Years and years of listening to grasp the idiomatic humor of musical devices that, in themselves, as notated, are entirely static.