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March 2, 2003
How 'bout some Igor and Wolfgang?
Ah, classical music. What a fabulous way to end a confusing week - one full of frustration, fear, anxiety, and also a fair amount of happiness and joy. Saturday evening I had the pleasure of seeing choral music live at Alice Tully Hall here in NYC (part of Lincoln Center). The program caught my eye because it contained one of my favorite all-time choral pieces, "Symphony of Psalms" by Igor Stravinsky. And the second piece, the "Mass in C Minor", was by my favorite classical composer, Wolfgang Mozart.
Okay, okay, I was a music major, so I could bore you to tears with historical references and melodic/harmonic details that would likely be meaningless to most people stumbling upon this blog. So I think today I will keep my mouth shut. But I will say that even if you have never enjoyed a choral/orchestral piece in your life, I honest to god think you would find great pleasure in the Stravinsky. The first movement contains more excitement than you would ever expect to find in a piece of religious music (the piece was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but Stravinsky chose Christian material for his subject matter). And here's another plus: no violins. Or viola, for that matter. The orchestral scoring is based on low-register strings, raucous brass, and punctuated piano lines. It certainly defies all classic definitions of "symphony", and considering that it was written in 1926, mere decades after Beethoven, this deviation was quite scandalous!
Anyway, it's a darn good piece.
As for the Mozart, it's a little more difficult to stomach. It's easy to listen to, but it's a full hour of listening. I enjoyed it thoroughly, though; especially the brief moments of double chorus (a technique that fascinates me so much I could spend the rest of my life talking about it -- really, I dare you to ask about my college thesis). FYI this isn't the Requiem Mass that was made so famous by the highly fictionalized account of its writing in the 1984 movie "Amadeus", rather this mass was written nearly a decade earlier.
I have quite a soft spot for live choral music. It was a nice contrast to the previous few nights of entertainment (of which I still have to type about, so stay tuned....)
Meanwhile, roomie is also in the band for an off-Broadway musical, called Heat Lightning. I have no idea what it's about or how good it is, but I'm going to the premiere on March 5th to check it out...for free! Having a musician roommate is a handy thing sometimes...