glass notes
Music (The Book) & Carnegie Recap

A couple weeks ago a sort of Photography book was released called simply MUSIC.  The book is by Andrew Zuckerman and edied by Alex Vlack and features portraits of some great living musicians from Iggy Popp to Lenny Kravitz and Fiona Apple.  Among those who interest me are John Williams, Danny Elfman, and our guy Philip Glass.


In addition to the photos each musician responds to questions in quasi-interview form of what music means to them, inspiration, and collaboration.  There's two or three mapges of interviews for each entry but the book also includes a downloadable film. The photography is interesting and so is the film. Definitely check it out.

Carnegie Hall Recap:

Last night at Carnegie was a triumph.  Robert McDuffie performed, with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Vivaldi's Four Seasons along with the NY premiere of Philip Glass' Violin Concerto No.2 "The American Four Seasons."

Glass McDuffie

One novelty that I appreciated was that the newer lesser-known piece went second on the program.  The traditional classical music crowd being so lame, they come and politely sit through the first half of the program only then the old-fogies get to hear what they came to hear: the time-tested war-horse like Beethoven's Fifth or Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1.  So McDuffie choosing to put the Glass second was significant.

With that said, McDuffie's Vivaldi was great.  No matter what way you look at it, Vivaldi is light music.  It's meant to be enjoyed by everyone including not only the audience, but also the performers. In the 20th concert of his 30 city tour, McDuffie made every impression that he was loving every second of it.

There was seriousness when called for, but there were also the playful exchanges between instrumentalists of the Venice Baroque Orchestra. When the solo role was given for example to the lute, McDuffie would pull out a chair and revel as every other listener was doing.

As for the Glass, he tore it up.  He's a very agressive player and all of the solo movements were therefore very confidently played. Even the solo line in the slow second movement was played with a certain requisite strength.  Not at any time was the violin not the hero of this concerto.  In the last movement with the synthesizer seemingly playing as fast as possible, McDuffie kept pace with a "struggle" which is think is the best element in Glass' string writing. It's a consequence of the violin not being a traditionally rhythmic instrument like percussion or piano, but that element of struggle is something the listener appreciates and when the violin is able to break through that struggle into the lyrical legato of say the second movement, the effect is nothing short of the apotheosis of Glassian beauty. It was certainly felt by this audience as McDuffie kept pace with the fast tempo, and eventually, right at the end, his violin overcame it all to win the day.

The small ensemble of 18 musicians plus McDuffie produced a large sound for such a small number. As the Glass ended the audience literally lept to its feet.  Glass came out to share a bow with McDuffie and the house went crazy.  Say what you will about Glass and his music, there is no denying that the his large public loves it, especially when played so convincingly by champions like McDuffie.

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