from Wednesday, March4th of the year2009.
So, sometimes, my life is really surreal. I had this piece in LA, right, a few weeks ago. And the organization putting it on has what I guess is a publicist whose email address is at AOL.com. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when people still have an AOL address they are either some kind of a genius or a crazy person. Anyway, I’ve been getting emailed reviews of the show by this AOL address, and it sent one the other day that is so outrageous that it took me three full reads through to see if it was written by an Illiterate Person or if it had been Google Translated from the original Hungarian. I’m going to post the full text below, actually, because it is Unbelievable. And then let’s go through Paragraph by Paragraph. Also it contains my new catchphrase.
Before a near-full house on Oscar Night, perhaps the most moving item on the programme at Walt Disney Concert Hall was the first, De Profundis (Out of the Depths) by Estonian composer Arvo PÃ¤rt sung by the gentlemen of the Chorale, dispersed as they were into four separated voice parts. Other than a slightly out of tune entrance by the first tenors, the piece moves at dirge tempo, through-composed and ““sung in alternating sections until the concluding verse Quia apud Dominum misericordia (For with the Lord there is mercy) where all sing together in a glorious latticework of harmonies and discord.
Just start keeping a list of weirdness. Subject-Object agreement…”as they were”….the relationship between the tenor entrance and the speed of the piece? Hmm?
Then it moves on:
The World Premiere of Andrea Clearfield’s Cantata of poems by Langston Hughes called Dream Variations, was performed by the Master Chorale accompanied by a quartet of instruments that was largely unremarkable but rather typical of contemporary atonal writers, and interspersed with non-choral interludes. Commission for the work came from the Debussy Trio Music Foundation, which also provided the services of Marcia Dickstein (harp), Angela Wiegand (flute) and David Walther (viola). All that said, this work is highly likely to be heard in performances by other choruses across the nation. It has a certain commercial appeal that will make it so.
Now, here we start getting really crazy. That last sentence, for starters, but then moving back through it, “Atonal Writers?” The most atonal thing about Andrea’s piece was a sharp 4 in there somewhere. Also, it’s funny because I would imagine that the combination of viola, flute, and harp would appeal mainly to hyper-tonal composers. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a whole atonal tradition of writing for Debussy ensemble, though…?
Okay but here comes the best part:
Arguably the least moving item was the last one, billed as a West Coast premiere, Expecting the Main Things from You by very young composer Nico Muhly from outtakes of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass that offers shards of interest but also relishes grinding the listener’s ear just a bit too much. Lesser grinding would be most welcome. The entire Master Chorale gave us its best, with instrumental accompaniment from a chamber band led by violinist Ralph Morrison.
LESSER GRINDING WOULD BE MOST WELCOME! YESSSSSSSSSSSSS! So genius. I don’t care if it was translated from Hungarian. This is a Precious Treasure. Other things: “very young.” And: “outtakes” from Leaves of Grass ““ you know, a stanza here and there he left on the cutting room floor.
Anyway, this is an amazing document well worth a full read. It’s deliciously garbled and he said Lesser Grinding Would Be Most Welcome. I also just love that some AOL address emailed it to me, like, “just FYI!”