LISTSERV mailing list manager LISTSERV 16.0

Help for CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL Archives

CLASSICAL Archives


CLASSICAL@COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM


View:

Message:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Topic:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

By Author:

[

First

|

Previous

|

Next

|

Last

]

Font:

Proportional Font

LISTSERV Archives

LISTSERV Archives

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL Home

CLASSICAL  September 2006

CLASSICAL September 2006

Subject:

The Kronos "Meditation" on 9/11

From:

Jeff Dunn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 12 Sep 2006 21:29:54 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (121 lines)

If Only ...

   Kronos Quartet
   Herbst Auditorium
   San Francisco
   9/11/06
   
   Like the designers of the World Trade Center, the Kronos Quartet
   set their sights high.  They would recognize the fifth anniversary
   of the devastation of that landmark with more than a simple
   memorial.  They would present an "Awakening," a "Musicial
   Meditation," "a new soundtrack to an internal movie," a creation
   of "equilibrium in the midst of imbalance: a special covering
   on an open wound" by "using a wide range of sonic building blocks
   from 12 countries."
   
   Did they succeed?
   
   Partially.  Their carefully crafted and modulated program offered
   ample material for meditation.  Each of its three sections offered a
   different challenge to the audience, and the performance was magnificent.
   Unfortunately, the interminable centerpiece of the evening, Michael
   Gordon's The Sad Park, cast such an irrevocable pall that even a
   beautiful children's chorus at the end could not save the day.
   Commissioned by the Kronos, it is ample proof that a piece for a
   disaster should not be a disaster.
   
   Challenge #1: Culture
   
   The first section of the Awakening was a confrontation.  While
   some in America are pushing to call 9/11 Patriot Day, the Kronos
   began their program with works closer to Bin Laden's homeland
   than America's.  A traditional call to Muslim prayer, the adhan,
   was played by the Quartet from the corners of the stage, as if
   from separate minarets.  The four then merged at the center for
   the Uzbeki composition Awakening, also based on adhans.  Instead
   of Manhattan hustle and bustle, an infectious popular song from
   Iraq came next, "Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me." This
   is supposed to be a love song, but isn't that verb a provocation,
   considering Abu Ghraib?  Finally, the section was rounded off
   by melismatic numbers from Iran and India.  No New York yet.
   
   Challenge #2: Hard Music
   
   The Western avant garde was the topic of the second section,
   beginning with a literally striking arrangement of Armenia,
   a song by the German Industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten.
   Bashing with hammers and rasping with hacksaws and spark-flying
   grinders, members of the Quartet had a jolly time.  Violinist
   and Founder David Harrington turned into rock star and horror
   master as he mouthed in highly distorted German, "Are the volcanoes
   still active?  Please don't disappoint me." Oh, and by the way,
   the band name translates as "collapsing new buildings."
   
   Next came John Oswald's Spectre, six minutes long and unforgettable,
   followed without pause by Gordon's Park, thirty minutes long and
   unendurable.  Spectre starts with a tuning session that merges
   into overdubs of simultaneous Kronos recordings, more than a
   thousand, that according to Oswald create "a wall of sound of
   veils of vibration of ghosts of events of past and future
   continuously present in a virtually extended moment." At the
   climax, which has been described by Harrington and listeners
   alike as "747s taking off," the Quartet members, like a sped-up
   cartoon, flash their bows back and forth balletically in the air
   above their strings.  In a word, breathtaking.
   
   Where the jets went is the subject of Gordon's wet blanket,
   played in its West Coast premiere.  Gordon was walking his son
   Lev to pre-kindergarten in Lower Manhattan on 9/11, the two
   experiencing first hand what happened.  Lev's teacher later
   recorded her charges' descriptions, such as "There was a big
   boom and then there was teeny fiery coming out." In fulfilling
   his commission, Gordon directed sound designer Luke DuBois to
   drastically distort the kids' words; meanwhile he wrote the
   extremely repetitive, astringent accompaniment for the Quartet.
   Frankly, I couldn't decide what the result was most like: being
   trapped alive in the ruins of the WTC and not being rescued, or
   being immobilized by a flu headache while having to listen to a
   neighbor's kid practice the violin over and over?  The meditations
   of members of the audience are not known, but the effects were
   clearly visible on their bodies: squirming, fidgeting, grimacing,
   and for some lucky ones, sleep.
   
   Challenge #3: Symbolic Reconciliation
   
   After the Gordon, the concluding section of tonal works was very
   welcome, but not enough to make up for previous suffering.  A
   joint work by Osvaldo Golijov and Gustavo Santaolalla, sounding
   every bit like the Adagietto from Mahler's Fifth Symphony, was
   nice, even if it was originally written for Alejandro G.  Inarritu's
   stark film with a mostly blank screen, sounds of a morass of
   voices, and occasional flashes of people falling to the deaths
   from the WTC.  Terry Riley's "One Earth, One People, One Love"
   from Sun Rings took a My-Country-Tis of-Thee-like melody and
   accompanied it with an intriguing film and words by Neil Armstrong
   and poet Alice Walker.  Although opening with Armstrong's words
   a shot of the Earth as seen from space moving across and off the
   screen, the rest of the film consists of Walker intoning the
   title while two cylinders mounted vertically on sticks swing
   back and forth at each other, but just missing each time.  Are
   these the two cultures, East and West?  Will they collide?  In
   fact they do, fairly gently, and the result puts them in a
   parallel orbit around one another.
   
   A Swedish folksong arranged for Quartet, then a Finnish song by
   Aulis Sallinen sung by the children of the Piedmont Choirs Concert
   Choir, and finally Vladimir Martynov's The Beatitudes: all were
   sweet, all were fine.  The kids even brought tears to my eyes.
   But none were enough.  The challenges proposed by this concert
   of the Kronos were stimulating, laudatory.  There was a lot for
   the mind, some for the heart, and unfortunately, a mixed, poisoned
   bag for the ear.  The soundtrack was not replaced, the equilibrium
   was only partially achieved, the covering for the wound had a
   thirty-minute hole in it.  The building block from America was
   made of defective concrete.
   
   In future anniversaries, a substitute for The Sad Park should
   be found, for the rest of the music, and its framework, constitutes
   an impressive contribution to the art.

Jeff Dunn <[log in to unmask]>

Top of Message | Previous Page | Permalink

Advanced Options


Options

Log In

Log In

Get Password

Get Password


Search Archives

Search Archives


Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Subscribe or Unsubscribe


Archives

May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999
June 1999
May 1999
April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
July 1997

ATOM RSS1 RSS2



COMMUNITY.LSOFT.COM

Secured by F-Secure Anti-Virus CataList Email List Search Powered by the LISTSERV Email List Manager