I think we’ve talked briefly about music and context before, but I think the great debate runs parallel to that of the visual arts world: present in bare bones on white walls? Or add elaborate frames and scenes to enhance (or potentially muddle) the artist’s meaning?
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the BSO has an intriguing upcoming concert entitled “Pictures of Music.” Hindemith’s Symphony Mathis de Maler – art history-riffic! Mussourgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition – who doesn’t love? But the real head-scratcher is the premiere of a BSO co-commission. It’s by Dave Brubeck and his son Chris, and it’s called Ansel Adams: America.
Apparently the Brubecks “have created a multi-media celebration of nature photographer Ansel Adams, combining the symphony orchestra with stunning photography.” More from Chris Brubeck in the program notes:
Because the architecture of some of Adams’ photographs was so like the complex structure of a fugue, I suggested to my father that he write one as the heart of this new composition. Dave’s enthusiasm and creativity inspired him far beyond the fugue. He devised many wonderful themes and ideas that we expanded and polished together. Once the piano score was complete, my wife, Tish and I began to select additional images to be shown throughout the developing score.
Since the pieces were designed to coincide with the photographs, I suppose we can assume they are being experienced as the composer intended. However, the music will inevitably affect the way the viewer sees Adams’ photography. Since Adams is not around to give his stamp of approval, is this permissible? One might argue that it is no different than a choreographer composing a dance to a dead composer’s music, but one could also point out that dance and music have a more traditional marriage than music and still photography. Thoughts?
If you’d like to judge for yourself, there are Ansel Adams: America performances at the Meyerhoff on February 11 and Strathmore on February 12, both at 8 pm. There’s also a casual matinee on February 13 at 11 am and an Off the Cuff concert at 7 pm (both at the Meyerhoff), but these eliminate the Mussourgsky. Let me know how it goes; I’ll be at my other job, attempting to make up for my lost week at Disney. Yes, my life is so sad.
For something more immediate, I believe the Twitter discount for this week’s Porgy and Bess is still running.