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  October 2006

CLASSICAL October 2006

Subject:

Golijov Interview - "I Vant Your Blood Boil!"

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 10 Oct 2006 13:42:12 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (248 lines)

http://sfcv.org/main/main.php

   Overdue Master
   By Jeff Dunn
   
   Running more than a little late, the San Francisco Symphony will
   finally hop aboard the Osvaldo Golijov bandwagon next week.
   Golijov, one of the world's most famous composers, will debut
   in Davies Hall Oct. 18-21 under the baton of Simyon Bychkov with
   Last Round, a tribute to his idol, fellow Argentine composer
   Astor Piazzolla.

   Golijov is not just a well-schooled, talented composer who has
   impressed the cognoscenti.  He has hit most people who have heard
   him like a bombshell.  Last summer, Richard Dyer of the Boston
   Globe wrote, "When Osvaldo Golijov bounded onstage at Tanglewood
   after the world-premiere performance of his Azul, the audience
   - 8,692 people - greeted the composer like a rock star."
   
   Golijov's recent opera Ainadamar was hailed as "stunning,"
   "mesmerizing," "gorgeous," and "amazing" by a number of critics.
   And back in 2001, Alex Ross of The New Yorker had this to say
   about the Stuttgart premiere of La Pasion Segun San Marcos:
   
   Audiences reacted with abandon, applauding and shouting for 20
   minutes.  "War Madonna im Saal?" asked the Stuttgarter Nachrichten.
   "Oder wenigstens Michael Jackson? [Was Madonna in the house? Or
   Michael Jackson?]" No - in the house was a 39-year-old Argentinean
   of Eastern European-Jewish descent, who, until Pasion, was known
   as the composer of a piece for string quartet and klezmer clarinet.
   Golijov is a huge talent, with limitless possibilities in front
   of him.
   
   Fortunately, Bay Area new-music fans haven't had to wait for
   the Symphony to bring Golijov to town.  Not only are many of his
   works available on CD, but the chamber version of Last Round was
   performed at the 2005 Green Music Festival in Rohnert Park (see
   review).  The chamber works Yiddishbbuk and The Dreams and Prayers
   of Isaac the Blind have been performed at least twice each since
   2001 (and the latter will be performed yet again by the Gold
   Coast Players in April 2007).  Golijov's magnum opus so far,
   the Pasion, was performed at Stanford nearly four years ago.
   
   What is it about this composer that keeps the performances coming?
   
   I would cite five qualities in particular: Golijov's ear, his
   heart, his sense of drama, his feeling for melodic line, and
   the breadth of his sources of inspiration.  Let's take the last
   characteristic first, for it is the most distinctive.  Golijov's
   background encompasses cultural influences high and low.  This
   would in itself make him a darling of the world-music movement,
   but there's much more.  His ear ensures that the ravishing new
   sounds he creates do not drown each other out.  His heart injects
   passion into all that he does, but his sense of drama makes sure
   not only that there are climactic moments, but that they occur
   as part of a structurally sound arc of development.  Finally,
   his gift for melody and its transformation makes his material
   flow and sing, sugar for the must-eat cake.
   
   Golijov was born in La Plata, Argentina, in 1960.  His mother
   was a piano teacher; his father, a physician.  Arriving in the
   U.S. in 1986 after studying music for three years in Israel, he
   earned a Ph.D. in composition at the University of Pennsylvania,
   studying with George Crumb and, later, Oliver Knussen.  He will
   share composer-in-residence duties with Marc-Anthony Turnage at
   the Chicago Symphony during the next two seasons, and he is a
   professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
   There is, however, nothing overly academic or stuffy about his
   music, or his descriptions of it - heart first, theory later.
   
   Last Round is Golijov's 14-minute, two-movement homage to Astor
   Piazzolla (1921-1992), the great Argentine transformer of the
   tango and other musical forms.  The work is not only inspired
   by Piazzolla, but by his instrument, the bandoneon.  The first
   movement is based on a story with the same name by Julio Cortazar:
   A prizefighter gets a chance to come back from the dead for one
   last round.  Piazzolla, short of stature, was famous for his
   fighting, especially when someone would rile him by asking,
   "Could you play a tango?" You see, everything he'd been playing
   before was a tango, but in an unconventional form that irked
   traditionalists.  Golijov's second movement, much of which was
   written earlier, is an elegy to both Piazzolla and the tango
   itself.
   
   On Sept. 27, I reached Osvaldo Golijov by phone in the Boston
   area, where he was busily working on the score for Francis Ford
   Coppola's next film.
   
   How did you come to be interested in the life and music of Astor
   Piazzolla?
   
   I first saw [Piazzolla] in La Plata when I was a kid.  I went
   to Buenos Aires to hear him, and then to New York, many times
   through the late '80s.  When I first heard him, it completely
   transformed my life forever.  I never had heard music by a leading
   composer, let alone somebody who could synthesize so beautifully
   all the music that I love: Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky - well, not
   Mozart, maybe.  And also the phrasing of the bandoneon and all
   the instruments in the ensemble: It's a very clear distillation
   of the way in which people spoke and walked in the '60s in
   Argentina.  So I could clearly see the connection between life
   and music.  It was something I could not see in the pieces I was
   playing on the piano, because for me that was only music.  Until
   then, I always had to ask, 'How do you phrase this, how do you
   phrase that work?' But with Piazzolla's music everything was so
   clear because the pressures and the releases came from the way
   in which people lived and spoke and walked and joked and cried
   and screamed.
   
   So did he become a model for you? Although you didn't decide to go into
   fistfights, did you?
   
   Yes, absolutely, yes - but no, no, no! I'm much more peaceful.
   
   When [Piazzolla] had his stroke, my father called me and told
   me, and I was really very devastated about it.  I never met him
   personally - I saw many of his concerts, but I never had the
   nerve to go speak to him.  Several times I have dreamed I would
   come to him with Last Round and show it to him and he would say,
   "It's good, but it's too late!"
   
   In the first movement, I seem to hear contours of the Dies Irae.
   Was that conscious, or not?
   
   It's possible - why not?  But not conscious.  I was trying to
   find the figure that I could pass from orchestra to orchestra.
   [The piece is written for two string orchestras, facing each
   other, with basses in between.] You know, when you dance the
   tango, it's a constant provocation from one [partner] to the
   other.  I guess I was looking for that.
   
   Do you have any Piazzolla quotations in the piece?
   
   In the second movement, there's kind of a double quotation.
   There's a beautiful Piazzolla tango called Milonga del Angel
   [the Milonga is a type of Argentinean dance in 2/4 time with
   accents on the first, fourth, fifth, and seventh of every eight
   beats; it is also the name of a place where tangos are danced],
   but at the same time the melodic figure is very much like what
   might be called the national anthem of tango, which is My Beloved
   Buenos Aires [Mi Buenos Aires querido], by Carlos Gardel.
   Piazzolla himself acted in a movie with Gardel.  For a while,
   as a child, he lived in New York, and Gardel was at that time
   shooting some movies for the Latin American market.  In [one of
   them, El Dia Que Me Quieras (The Day You Love Me)], he played a
   newspaper boy!
   
   I never think of my piece as a tango, because it's not.  In a
   much simpler way, it's like what Ravel did in La Valse: It's not
   a waltz; it's a memorial to the era of the waltz.
   
   What made you add the first movement, after writing the memorial
   to Piazzolla?
   
   I thought it needed it.  [For] the second movement, which I wrote
   first, the idea was the bandoneon - the opening and closing, the
   breathing of the bandoneon.  But ultimately, it's a big opening
   of the bandoneon.  I loved when I watched Piazzolla play.  He
   would open the bandoneon almost to the infinite.  He would spread
   it like an eagle.  In a way, the second movement is a huge
   exhalation.  My thought was about making a first movement that
   is in a state of constant compression.  A little bit like in
   Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence in the first movement [Allegro
   con spirito].  I always feel it's a movement that acts like when
   you send a rocket into space and it starts losing parts [the
   stages fall away], and it gets faster and faster.  So that's the
   idea.  I thought it would balance well the second movement.
   
   The glissandi that I wrote in the first movement, it's something
   Piazzolla used to do a lot.  I thought it would be nice to do.
   It's full of gestures of Piazolla, without any direct quotations.
   He liked doing that.  The glissando is also sexual and dancing.
   
   Tell me about your work with Francis Ford Coppola on his new
   film, Youth Without Youth.
   
   I'm working on it as we speak.  I have to record in late November.
   I was [at Coppola's estate] in Napa Valley several times, and
   also in Romania, because he was shooting and editing there [the
   screenplay is adapted from a novella about immortality by the
   Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade].  It's the best experience
   that you can imagine!  He's a genius.  Like a slow-moving volcano.
   Writing the music is more "mood" than "clock." Very atmospheric.
   It's not an action film, so, you don't need a watch [to precisely
   time the music to the action].
   
   What sort of moods did he ask for?
   
   Well, memory, dark memories, danger, time.  In the film,
   time going backwards.  He wanted it scored in the language of
   [Schoenberg's] Verklarte Nacht.  It's basically cimbalom, strings,
   celesta, harp - a very subtle kind of thing.  I tried to write
   something beautiful in that style that's pretty dark and dramatic.
   I work very hard on the melodies.  They don't come easy.  Sometimes
   I find a good one and sometimes I don't.
   
   Are you conscious of being a famous composer now, and are you
   wondering what kind of legacy you will leave?
   
   No, no.  Yes and no.  Who knows how long this thing will last.
   It's a strange phenomenon.
   
   You were greeted like a rock star at Tanglewood.  How did that
   feel?
   
   It's strange, like being the Beatles.  It's almost like being
   two people: One is who I am; the other is when you go onstage.
   It has nothing to do with who I am.  It's something that you do:
   You go onstage and people applaud or they boo you.
   
   If you wrote your Pasion of San Marcos 30 years ago, would the
   critics have thrown it away?
   
   Yes, yes, it would have been treated like Bernstein's Mass.  I'm
   very lucky I was born when I was born.
   
   Have there been highbrow types who have said you're too popular?
   
   Oh, yes, of course!  Mostly, I've been praised and vilified for
   the wrong reasons.  I guess I became the flag for the fight among
   critics.  There was a point when, instead of talking about my
   music, they were just fighting among themselves.  At some point,
   it annoys you - then you realize that, well, it's life.
   
   I wanted to ask you about the MacArthur Fellowship.  What did
   you do with it?
   
   It's incredible, just incredible.  Mostly, I just put it toward
   the tuitions for my children.  It went toward a higher calling!
   I always worried about how I was going to afford the tuition,
   but now I will be all right.
   
   Do you have any final comments about Last Round and what you'd
   like the audience to hear?
   
   The idea, really, is to create a physiological music in the
   first movement, to make your blood rush.  I feel when I listen to
   Tchaikovsky that he can really affect your bloodstream with his
   rhythm.  You know, when you dance tango, your torso is stiff,
   but the legs fly.
   
   (Jeff Dunn is a freelance critic with a B.A.  in music and a
   Ph.D. in geologic education.  A composer of piano and vocal
   music, he is a member of NACUSA and president of Composers Inc.)

Janos Gereben/SF
www.sfcv.org
[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