Friday, April 27, 2007

Open Ears Festival: April 27

Some celebrities tonight:

7:30 PM -- Frederic Rzewski

I have never managed to get my "contemporary piano composition" ears. This stuff tends to sound like disconnected bursts of tinkling, broken up by brief snatches of melody. It doesn't connect to me emotionally. Intellectually I sit there thinking "yeah, that must be difficult to play," but part of me is also thinking "are you only avoiding melody because you think you're SUPPOSED to?"

Saying this about a composer like Rzewski might be blasphemy -- and his final piece, De Profundis, featuring snatches of letters by Oscar Wilde along with some odd squeaks and squawks, connected with me wonderfully -- but I just don't understand how to appreciate much of this genre, particularly the second piece (Four Pieces). J (festival stalwart) enjoyed it, and B (festival stalwart 2) felt he was on the verge understanding, but I think it comes down to frequent exposure, so you begin to recognize themes and references. When that happens you might be able to break it all down into chunks that you can digest.

10:30 PM -- Wunderkabinet

A dash of Laurie Anderson, a big whack of Peter Greenaway, and you get Pamela Z's "Wunderkabinet." Technically over-the-top with beautifully overlapping samples (these folks know how to use their delay processors!) along with intriguing fake museum entries and a three-dimensional X-ray "piercing devil." Unsettling, cerebral, beautiful visuals by Christina McPhee.

Unfortunately we were seated in a strange position, so we couldn't see much of what was going on...but still a thrill.

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