February 28 - Happy

Wrote the Marin Symphony review, below. Recorded Mice and Men, Act I, J ("No, look, Lennie"), plus Waiting for Godot, Act I, XII-XIV.

Harriet's birthday tonight, so heading out soon. We'll celebrate at home, since inadvertently we have a DSL guy showing up sometime this evening. Then H off to Modesto for a job... No rest for the artistic....


Dance Pop at Marin Symphony

by Mark Alburger

Dance may have been the unifying thread in the Marin Symphony's most recent
outings on February 25 and 27 at Veterans Auditorium in San Rafael. Beginning
with Zoltan Kodály's "Dances of Galanta" and concluding with Ludwig van
Beethoven's "Symphony No. 7," which Carl Maria von Weber once described as "the
apotheosis of the dance" -- the program sandwiched a new version of Osvaldo
Golijov's "The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind," which itself provides many
lithe moments.

"Galanta" is one of the highpoints of its composer's career, considerably
gentler than the rowdy "Hary Janos," and sweet to the ear in its exploration of
many things native Hungarian. As has been typical over the past few years
under music director Alasdair Neale, the ensemble allowed the music to shine.

The orchestral strings were joined by multi-clarinetist Todd Palmer in
"Dreams and Prayers," a dashing work first heard by this reviewer on January 19,
1996, with the Kronos Quartet and Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer at
Berkeley's Hertz Hall. At that time, Golijov was a relatively new voice on the
scene, in a program that also featured "John [Adams]'s Book of Alleged Dances,"
against which "Drams" certainly held its own. Here, as before, the clarinet's
prominent downward halfstep motive and wide vibrato set the stage for sudden
high octave snake-charmer leap out of the sonic basket of strings. There was a
George Crumb abruptness and a post-minimal sensibility to the mesmeric
figurations which suggested a kind of updated Bartókian "Contrasts" -- nicely
connecting Golijov with Kodály's Eastern European compatriot, Béla Bartók. Palmer
wailed and trilled and traded for a blustery bass clarinet which soon ascended
into a Bronx cheer -- like an E-flat castrato clarinet on steroids tugging at
the emotions. A Morton-Feldman-tinged section was a machine-gun marriage of
"The Godfather" and "Fiddler on the Roof," a classical crossover extravaganza,
with fragments of folk song violently broken off. There were glassy trills,
Crumb-accelerando one-note passages, and sheer joy.

Sheer joy was also the order of the evening in a resounding performance of
the Beethoven Seventh. From rhapsodic opening oboe arpeggiation and bumptious
Siciliana rhythms of the first movement, through the heartbreakingly poignant
counterpoint and snap-rhythm absurdities of the interior sections, to the manic
close -- this was a performance that captured the spirit.