Tuesday, February 11, 2014

concert and obituary

The concert was by the Eroica Trio at Oshman. Once three young women who wore the most skin-revealing costumes they could get away with on a classical stage, they are now of the slightly older "spent too much time out in the sun, has she?" appearance, wearing slightly more sedate gowns that cover everything from the armpits down. They played a soft, pillowy version of Beethoven's very early Op. 11 piano trio, and followed it up with an even more downy pillow of Benjamin Godard's "Berceuse", which I believe is an arrangement of an opera aria. Which made it even more appropriate that the encore should be a florid arrangement of Gershwin's "Bess You Is My Woman Now", with the cello as Porgy and the violin as Bess.

The other half of the concert, however, was entirely different, tougher and more vigorous in tone. It had Brahms's Op. 87 Trio, notable for the variety of character in its slow movement variations, and the trio of Rebecca Clarke, a composer highly esteemed by the few people who've ever heard of her. This piece came out most impressively, especially the finale which was more Brahmsian than I would have expected it to sound.

The obituary is that of Shirley Temple, a woman who survived with dignity and poise a regime of childhood stardom that would absolutely have crumbled most of her latter-day successors, I name no names. That her politics were as starched as her character - she ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1967 as a Republican supporter of the Vietnam war - is of no matter now.

The great mystery of her film career - why it quickly but quietly faded into nothing over the course of her adolescence - did not, for me, survive a viewing of some of her hit films. For it was quickly obvious that, while she was an unnervingly preciously talented dancer and a very good child singer, there was one thing necessary for lasting film stardom that she lacked. She could not act. (Contrast her with Jane Withers, her co-star in Bright Eyes, who could, and who kept on acting into adulthood.) That, I suspect, was the reason.

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