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Kikujiro

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No doubt a lot of talent and a steal at $30. Doesn't it bother you when untalented yet famous musicians/acts are charging $75 and up for shows in arenas and stadiums and packing the house, (and appearing on the Grammy's!) while so many truly talented musicians, like Luther Dickinson, are playing in clubs for $25 and $30?

The first part bothers me more than the second part.

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Two concerts I went to last week made me think about traditional "classical" music and what it's worth.

 

On the one hand, I subscribe to the school of thought that the "classical" music canon is perhaps the very pinnacle of achievement of Western culture: the best that the West has produced. On the other hand, I find it hard to relate on any personal level to music composed more than a hundred years ago. You have to work very hard to see what the composer is actually trying to convey (as opposed to the brain-dead wallowing in plush sonics and self-congratulation that most of the audience for old classical music indulges in, in almost masturbatory fashion).

 

But yet, this is great stuff.

 

A successful performance of "old" classical music will make the music seem as if it were being newly created before your eyes. This is very hard to do (I suspect that people who are not fans of classical music think it's impossible). But this is just what Leif Ove Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra did with Beethoven's Second, Third, and Fourth Piano Concertos at Carnegie Hall last Monday. I must have heard these works, live and on record, more than a hundred times (collectively). But these artists made it seem like I was hearing them for the first time. It's not that they strove for untethered novelty. It's that they played this music as if they were newly thinking it through. I heard things in the pieces I never noticed before, but that's not what I'm talking about. The whole concert had the feel of new music -- even if the music is in fact old and incredibly familiar.

 

This doesn't happen as often as you might hope.

 

Consider the Vienna Philharmonic's performance of Brahms's Deutsche Requiem on Sunday. Just as a performance, it was amazingly good: the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the best (and probably the single most distinctive) orchestras in the world, and the two vocal soloists -- Diana Damrau and Christian Gerhaher -- are two of the best singers in the world. Gehaher, in particular, gave a performance of almost amazing depth, combined with the most exquisite technique.

 

But it didn't amount to anything. It was a superb performance, but nevertheless just another superb performance, if you know what I mean. It communicated more that the Deutsche Requiem is a really great piece of music, and that these are all really great musicians -- all of which I'm sure most of the audience knew going in -- than anything about life or death or anything beyond the realm of musical accomplishment. Conductor Daniele Gatti did some idiosyncratic stuff, but it seemed tacked on, so that we didn't feel like we were hearing the same old same old. You didn't get the feeling, as with Andsnes and the Mahlers, that this music was being newly created in front of you.

 

When deciding what concert to attend on a given night, one rule of thumb I apply is that new music is preferable to old, as a matter of principle. Andsnes and the Mahlers made me question whether that principle is right. Gatti and the Vienneses convinced me that it is.

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It was more than $30 (unfortunately), but Anna Caterina Antonacci's Le Voix Humaine tonight was one for the ages. (The melodie recital before intermission was pretty fucking fab, too.)

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Commenters (probably on the WQXR website) were of course bemoaning this, saying that the hall is made for acoustic performance and anything else won't work. Sheesh. Me, I think that everyone should have the chance to fall in love with the space (and I also think amplification will work just fine, thank you very much).

 

Anyway, it's nothing new for me. Probably the first concert I ever went to there was Theodore Bikel (at the time, "hip" in folky circles), and the first I went to by myself or with friends (not family) was Bob Dylan, in the mid-1960s.

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I've seen amplified shows there. The sound sucks. It gets really muddy.

 

People going to amplified concerts at Carnegie Hall may fall in love with the hall -- but it won't be for the sound.

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We saw Transverse Gallery at B.B. King's on Wednesday night. Don't worry - you've never heard of them. This was my brother's high school band (in the late 60s). They reunited about 4 years ago and my brother has been working on a documentary about the experience. They're not very good, my brother brought in a lot of professional musicians to beef them up. But it was fun.

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Soulive is a jazz, soul, funk trio made up of Eric Krasno, Alan Evans and Neal Evans and they annually play a series of nights known as Bowlive at the Brooklyn Bowl with a pretty god list of special guests. 1st set last night was Soulive alone with The Shady Horns playing a few songs. Highlight for me was a jazzy version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. George Porter Jr came out for the last two songs of the set and really kicked things up. 2nd set included Anders Osborne playing 3 of his songs with Soulive and then Porter rejoined for a great version of After Midnight followed by Ohio, Down By the River and the Dead's Bertha. Biggest surprise of the night was Questlove taking over on drums for The Meter's Africa and then the always crowd pleasing and still very funky Ain't No Use. There was an additional trumpet player but I didn't catch his name.

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Dessoff @ 90, at Symphony Space. It was a lovely concert, delightfully varied--and I just melted at the end when they did "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen" from the Brahms Deutsches Requieum. (one of my favorite pieces, such beautiful harmonies)

 

I'm still not sure which one was plattetude, but StephanieL looked loved (and so thin!).

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Dessoff @ 90, at Symphony Space. It was a lovely concert, delightfully varied--and I just melted at the end when they did "Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen" from the Brahms Deutsches Requieum. (one of my favorite pieces, such beautiful harmonies)

 

I'm still not sure which one was plattetude, but StephanieL looked loved (and so thin!).

Front row, in the tux. ;) (In the single-choir formation, I was just to house right of the house-rightmost piano. Or stage left of the stage-leftmost piano. Depending. Which in any case wouldn't help you now, never having met me.)

 

Glad you were there and enjoyed! I myself was quite literally tearing up during our planned "encore." And a few other moments besides. So it's rewarding to think it made an impact on at least a few in the audience too....

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Saw a rather transplendent Patti Smith show at LPR last night. So nice compared to the Webster Hall hell hole shows of the past few year-ends.

 

Accompanied only by Lenny and Jessie, there were times when I might've felt like I was at Max's, in '73 - and there were little to no hallucinogenics involved.

 

For all us youngsters out there, 2015 marks the 40th anniversary of Horses. And a great version of Horses/Gloria was indeed played.

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