ain't baroque! :||
Don't Fix It

The shark ate my homework

Guys, your Monday video is ill-omened. For starters, it’s already Tuesday.

Listen,  I didn’t mean to leave you to flounder your way through Memorial Day all by your respective lonesomes. I fully intended to throw you a video, but I searched YouTube and then Google video and was unable to find the one I wanted (in case you’re wondering, it’s that 21st Century car insurance commercial where the guy comes in with a cello case loaded with blunt weaponry). So I said the hell with it and went to the aquarium. Sorry.

Then today I came in to work and YouTube finally decided that to punish me for not upgrading my browser it would disable all my sound. Unfortunately, I can’t update my browser because every time I try the system demands I login as an administrator, and my rank hath no such privileges. Therefore I can’t actually screen any videos before I post them. In short, you’ll have to wait on your weekly dose of musical video inanity.

Instead, let’s talk about this week’s BSO concert! It’s a doozy, entitled “Barber, Bartok and Beethoven.” I love Barber AND Bartok AND (duh) Beethoven! Andre Watts will be the pianist for Beethoven’s “Emperor” piano concerto, plus there’ll be a Bartok piece called Music For Strings, Percussion and Celeste. “Celeste” always makes me think of Tchaikovsky Discovers America, ’cause there’s that section where he talks about how he discovered it (in addition to America, apparently).

Probably generating the most excitement, I bet, is Barber’s Adagio for Strings, because seriously, who doesn’t love Adagio for Strings? It’s practically a requirement for existence. Hit it, program notes:

It took Barber several years to produce two works he thought worthy of Toscanini’s attention. His uncle, the composer Sidney Homer, gave him excellent advice: “The thing now is to write something for Toscanini that expresses the depth and sincerity of your nature. … You know as well as I do that the Maestro loves sincere straight-forward stuff, with genuine feeling in it and no artificial pretense and padding.”

Concerts are on Thursday, June 3 and Friday, June 4 at 8 pm and Sunday, June 6 at 3 pm at the Meyerhoff, as well as on Saturday, June 5 at 8 pm at Strathmore. Be there or be a four-sided polygon.

About Jenn

Despite being the former digital marketing intern at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jenn German does not like Mozart. Beethoven could've totally beaten him up. Also she has an arts management graduate degree from American University, but this changes nothing.


2 thoughts on “The shark ate my homework

  1. Wow.

    That is an aggressive program! Bartok’s “Music For Strings, Percussion and Celeste” is one of my favorites!!

    Here are program notes (found here http://bhco.co.uk/pages/node/69)

    BÉLA BARTÓK 1881 – 1945
    Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
    1. Andante tranquillo
    2. Allegro
    3. Adagio
    4. Allegro molto

    The Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta was commissioned in 1936 by Paul Sacher for the Basle Chamber Orchestra, and marked Bartók’s return to full-scale abstract orchestral composition following a period of close involvement with folk music and the composition of the fifth string quartet. The title is slightly misleading, in that the celesta is not of significantly greater importance than the other tuned percussion instruments chosen by the composer; piano, harp, xylophone and timpani. These are placed between what effectively amounts to two quite separate string orchestras on opposite sides of the platform, thus emphasising both the spatial and symmetrical potentialities of the music.

    The first movement consists of the longest and most intense fugue of Bartók’s career; an unbroken stream of notes of compelling and hypnotic power based on a theme which is to dominate the whole work. Starting on A in the violas of both orchestras, successive canonic entries then take the theme both ways round the circle of fifths, up to E, down to D, up again to B, down again to G, and so on until both upward and downward steps have arrived at the climax of E flat, played in repeated octaves by all the violins and violas. Thereafter, with the theme often only in inverted fragments, the steps reverse themselves back to A, which is reached with the theme played simultaneously both right way up and in inversion at a distance of two octaves under a shower of celesta arpeggios. The movement ends with a microcosm of itself as violins play scales in contrary motion from A out to E flat and back again.

    The second movement exploits the hitherto untried possibilities of antiphonal exchange between the string orchestras in a brilliant and vitally rhythmic dance movement in expanded sonata form. This is followed by a profound and haunting adagio in which Bartók displays a growing ability to harness his innate technical resources to the expression of a new emotional force. Initially, only the anguished, uncertain, but highly emotive viola theme disturbs the remote iciness behind the music, and thereafter the mood of other-worldliness is accentuated by the chromaticisms and weird instrumental effects so characteristic of Bartók’s so-called ‘night music,’ together with a stark, almost brutal passage at the height of the movement, marked by strident and percussive treatment of a five-note motif which gradually grows in both pace and dynamic.

    The finale returns to A, but now unashamedly to A major, sounded in strummed chords at the start right across the first orchestra. In form it is a rondo-cum-dance medley of the sort to be found in the second parts of the earlier violin rhapsodies.

    Perhaps the emotional climax of the whole piece, the point at which the doubts and conflicts of the adagio are finally resolved, is the moment near the end when the all-important motto theme returns in a more diatonic form, this time richly harmonised with triads, as if to assert the triumph of human nobility and warmth over adversity.

    The Triumph of Human Nobility & Warmth over Adversity – what a GREAT description.

    Jenn – I hope you go! Please tell me YOUR thoughts on the work after the performance!

    Peace out –

    Dr. Carney

    Posted by Dr. Carney | June 1, 2010, 11:53 am


  1. Pingback: Success! « If it ain't Baroque… - July 5, 2010

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