Saturday, March 24, 2018

the third review

This is the third concert review that I wrote last weekend. A few places where the thought might not be coherently expressed are mine; the inconsistency on whether to capitalize the sections of the Mass is not mine.

Normally I wouldn't jump at the opportunity to review an hour-long work that I'd never previously heard, but I took this for two reasons. One was that I knew from other works by this composer that he is determinedly postminimalist, an idiom I find appealing and comprehensible to the ear. I define postminimalism as music that, though not minimalist as the term is usually used, is informed by and responsive to minimalism having passed before it. Not all classical music written today, despite its chronological place, takes that perspective, but this does. I tried to describe what that means in the review.

The other reason was the topic and construction, which put the work squarely in the tradition of most of the modern choral classics that I admire most. It's "a mass for peace": it mourns and decries war and violence and turns its eyes towards hope, and it does this, like Bernstein's Mass, in the framework of a Catholic mass with additions salted in that are not part of the traditional liturgy.

My only criticism was that the ending tries too hard to mix celebration and hope, which are not the same emotion, into the same package. It doesn't have quite the same emotional control and power as its predecessors, but it's a worthy follower anyway. I'm glad I heard it.

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