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CLASSICAL  February 2009

CLASSICAL February 2009

Subject:

Crucifixion, da; Resurrection, nyet

From:

Janos Gereben <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 17:44:37 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (56 lines)

I was tying myself into knots today - unnecessarily, as it turns out
- to be polite in trying to find out from Sofia Gubaidulina why her
mightily impressive "St.  John Passion" is as depressing as it seems
to me (http://www.sfcv.org/2009/02/17/music-news-96/#anchor7).

   Ahem: "From an outsider's point of view, it seems to me
   that one important aspect of religion is to console and
   comfort; I didn't hear that in your Passion - was that [with
   a discreet chuckle] your fault or mine?" - and while she
   was thinking, I quickly added:
   
   "Perhaps you have other religious works I haven't heard yet
   that are more, well, comforting?"
   
   And this is what she said, with a perfectly pleasant demeanor:
   
   "There is no comfort in the Passion or in my other works,
   only tragedy and suffering."
   
   I waited one beat, then another. Finally:
   
   "Why is that?"
   
   And she said, still pleasantly: "Because I have a tragic
   sense of life, similar to what you find in Rilke, Shakespeare,
   Greek tragedy. Those who seek comfort, should listen to
   other composers."
   
   But Shakespeare and Greek tragedy provide catharsis; St.
   John's doesn't.  Was that in my hearing?
   
   "No, it's the music."

Additional data, including warm memories of her moderate mullah
grandfather [her Russian Orthodox faith is from her mother's side of
the family], will be upcoming in stories yet to be written, but here's
something important for potential San Francisco audiences: I can vouch
for both Gubaidulina's upcoming orchestral works ("The Light of the End,"
2/18-21, and Violin Concerto No.  2 "In tempus praesens," 2/26-27) -
they are dramatic, but not tragic, and should not depress...  perhaps
to the composer's regret.  [http://sfsymphony.org/season/]
<http://sfsymphony.org/season/Event.aspx?eventid=26940>

Afterthought: the equally downhearted Arvo Part's "religious music"
(which, perhaps, means all his music) has more of an updraft for me than
Gubaidulina's Passion.  Perhaps I should ask him whose fault that is.

Janos Gereben
www.sfcv.org
[log in to unmask]

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