Sunday, November 1, 2009

CIM Faculty Recital: Bach, Stravinsky, Bloch & Penderecki

(Carol Lynn Ruzicka, Violin; Cara Chowning, Piano)

Well played, challenging and technically interesting but not tremendously captivating music.

My last run-in with Bach about a month ago was rather unfortunate; this time around was more favorable. I generally enjoyed the Sonata in G Major for Violin and Keyboard and the performance generally but didn't feel a particularly strong attraction to the work as a whole or any one movement.

I've been interested in hearing Stravinsky's music for a little while, largely because of a comment buried near the end of a Wall Street Journal article on dwindling jazz audiences a few months ago (online here) that particularly resonated with me:

No, I don’t know how to get young people to start listening to jazz again. But I do know this: Any symphony orchestra that thinks it can appeal to under-30 listeners by suggesting that they should like Schubert and Stravinsky has already lost the battle. If you’re marketing Schubert and Stravinsky to those listeners, you have no choice but to start from scratch and make the case for the beauty of their music to otherwise intelligent people who simply don’t take it for granted. By the same token, jazz musicians who want to keep their own equally beautiful music alive and well have got to start thinking hard about how to pitch it to young listeners—not next month, not next week, but right now.

I think, but could not swear, that today is the first time I've heard Stravinsky live -- what I found more interesting that the music was the program note on his collaboration with Dushkin and I hadn't realized that he spent a fair amount of his life in the US. Pastorale was too pastoral for my tastes; Ballad from The Fairy's Kiss had some interesting moments, but favorite piece from the afternoon was Stravinsky's Tango.

At the risk of committing heresy, I had no meaningful reaction at all to Bloch's Nuit Exotique.

Krzystzof Penderecki's Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano had its interesting moments -- and interesting sounds. It certainly appeared to be quite a demanding piece at nearly 40 minutes in length, I was exhausted just watching Ms. Ruzicka. While I had no conscious reactions to the piece, other than marveling at the left hand work, I did find my left eye beginning to water as the final movement wound up.

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