Sunday, September 12, 2010

Classical Revolution Cleveland @ Prosperity Social Club (9/12)

"The kids are disco dancing / They're tired of rock and roll / I try to tell them 'hey, that drum machine ain't got no soul'" -- The Limosuines, Internet Killed The Video Star*

Classical Revolution should be required reading for anyone who thinks that classical is stuffy, dull, or expensive.

I actually hadn't thought that I was going to be able to attend tonight's edition -- I had a violin lesson scheduled for tonight, and aside from that when I woke up this, um, very late morning I was more sore than I've been in a while and I may, possibly, have been feeling other after effects** from Pandemonium at Cleveland Public Theatre... but as fate would have it my teacher had to reschedule our lesson, and I decided I didn't want to miss this installment.

Held at the same venue as last time, Prosperity Social Club in Tremont. I can't really imagine a better description of the venue than I used in that post, so...

To paint the setting in one word: Bar. To use slightly more words: A narrow, old-school bar in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood. The door is flanked with "Thank You" and "Call Again" neon signs; the paneled walls--looking slightly older than the 1940-70s vintage to which I typically attribute that architectural detail--hold advertisements for karaoke, happy hour, and other such events. A lone and strangely out of place disco ball spins in the front corner. The bar itself is well-worn, with the finish giving way to bare wood at places... behind the bar is the standard assortment of alcoholic beverages. Tables are scattered throughout, and a couple pool tables fill a back corner.

Yet in the front corner is something atypical for a bar: A collection of music stands and musical instrument cases.

Once again, the majority of the participants seemed to be CIM students. Where last time the majority of the participants were string players today the winds were well represented. The variety of music throughout the 3 hours of performance I attended***. This is not an environment for critical listening; conversations and clinking glassware developed, progressed, and faded. I had a Gouda Burger which was fantastic and gigantic.

I couldn't make out many of the composers or titles of the pieces as they were announced, but that's not really relevant: All of the music was enjoyable to listen to, and the selections were pleasantly short, so like the Cleveland weather, should you not be fully engaged in a work you needn't wait long before something else came along.

While I've certainly heard string ensembles in intimate settings -- and I'm not sure I'll ever get tired of that vibrancy -- the same can not be said for many of the instruments making an appearance tonight. (It was jokingly suggested, among those at my table, that for additional variety someone may wish to perform hip hop or Chinese techno at a future event)

Starting with a collection of works for solo and duo flute it was an exciting foray into new sounds in an intimate setting: I've only heard solo flute once previously -- in a more formal recital context; and I've not heard duo flute previously -- so it was nice to have the instrument in a more relaxed and intimate environment. Also interesting was duet for flute and bassoon--an unusual pairing of instruments.

Following that was a lively piece played with quartet including baroque violin and baroque cello, though I didn't catch the title of the piece or the composer (such is the peril of being caught with a burger in both hands while a work is being announced) though if I recall correctly it would have originally been played during the intermission of a comedia.

Brass made an appearance in the form of a tuba, trombone, an trumpet playing decidedly more modern music -- including an impressive, toe-tapping head bobbing work that one of the musicians had composed during a required course (Untitled at the Moment).

Strings came back for at collection of Stravinsky string quartets and a concertino before a pair of wind instruments -- that I've never seen or heard before -- appeared. Described as the "medieval oboe" and having a form that remained essentially unchanged from 1200-1500 the two Shawms made lively work out of dance music originally heard in the 1400s

Finally--before my heavy eyelids (through no fault of the music) forced my departure--we have Dvorak's American Quartet. Dvorak's Symphony 9, From the New World, is one of my favorite symphonic works, and that piece borrowed heavily from and built upon sounds that Dvorak found during a trip to America in the late 1800s. The American Quartet shares the foundations of From the New World, and if Wikipedia is to be trusted finished around the same time. To my ear, From The New World gives a very bold and confident extrospective air, while the American Quartet has a much more introspective and soulful -- though lively and not depressing -- feeling.

If you haven't tried Classical Revolution I certainly encourage it -- and bring a friend who thinks they don't like classical with you. Next time will be at the Barking Spider Tavern (University Circle), Sunday, October 24th starting at 3:30.

*- Yeah, I try to avoid quoting the same piece of music in consecutive quotes but it seems appropriate. Plus I'm really digging this song right now.
** - I still can't agree with myself about what to call it. Really, I only had 3 glasses of wine and 'enough' food over 6 hours.
*** - I excused myself befor the evening was completely finished... I think Pandemonium took more out of me than I realized.

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