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McDowell County: Resilience and Rebirth

Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

Write or Wrong?

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By Jim Lange
 · March 15, 2012

ding dong writer
If we don't know what we are talking about, better to keep one's ding dong thoughts private.

For the most part, I stay away from music criticism. You will not find me searching the web for concert or album reviews. I find that, most of the time, the writer has an agenda which has nothing to do with music. It's more about the writer's ego and clever use of puns or word play than any valuable information about a composer, orchestra or conductor. Writers act (not all) as if they are the sole guardians of good taste and are able to see when the "Emperor has no clothes." One writer actually penned: "Music is too valuable to be left to musicians." Really?

Someone sent me a link to a concert review and it is a howler. All names have been omitted to protect the clueless. The jaw-dropping, breath-taking dopiness has not been altered in any way. My own insertions are in brackets to clarify and correct a few mistakes.

 Despite his podium acrobatics and choreography, the conductor did a fine job in creating a big, beautiful sound and clearly met with enthusiastic, foot-stomping approval from the orchestra players.” 

“The big piece on the program was Brahm’s Third Symphony is a curious and difficult, if generally understated work, that, written in a major key with some memorable moments, exudes a certain sense of freedom and joy.” 

You might think of it as a bullfight. Except instead of awarding the bullfighter one or two years, the audience awarded [the conductor and the orchestra] two loud and long standing ovations.” 

 “It was for the flashy work by Rimsky-Korsakov (Capriccio Espagnol), which, though short on substance, is a terrific illustration of the composer’s mastery of orchestration and ability to show off all the section of the orchestra to maximum effect.” 

 “The symphony by Brahms  (below) was done well, but I thought needed a little more sweep and tension. It needed less rubato, less freedom and fussing. It needed to move more and be more straightforward. 

 The secret to most Brahms, I think, is to allow the music to have sentiment without sentimentality. This performance came close, but it needed still more impersonality and distance, more attention to structure than content. It needed to be left alone and speak for itself, to let the composer and the score do the heavy-lifting.” 

[Rodrigo’s Concierto Andaluz was performed] 

 “The music itself is pleasant enough but slight stuff, even second-tier in the large picture. It is mostly scales and arpeggios running up and down the keyboard accompanied by some lovely melodies and rhythms. [The guitar has no keyboard, but a “fingerboard.”] 

True, it felt a like cheating when the guitarists amplified their sound through electronic microphones and loudspeakers. I mean, whatever did they do with guitar concertos by Vivaldi and Boccherini before electric amplification? [Most concertizing guitarists use amplification when performing with symphony orchestras to be heard at all.] 

“It is not by chance that Schoenberg and Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, did NOT composer [Sp?] music for the classical guitar, at least not to my knowledge. 

Now, I do not say this condescendingly.” 


Youth Symphony This Sunday

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By Jim Lange
 · March 9, 2012

wv youth symphony pic
The West Virginia Youth Symphony performs this Sunday, March 11 at 3pm at Kanawha Presbyterian Church.

 The West Virginia Youth Symphony will hold its annual Chamber Concert on Sunday, March 11, 2012 at 3 pm at Kanawha United Presbyterian Church located at 1009 Virginia Street, East in Charleston. Performances will be given by nine different Chamber Ensembles, comprised of 31 student musicians between the ages of 9-18. The ensembles range from duets, to trios, to quartets and quintets and are comprised of string or wind and brass musicians.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for students and seniors and may be purchased at the door.

For more information on the West Virginia Youth Symphony, please call the office at 304-561-3542 or visit our website at www.wvyouthsymphony.org.

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