Tuesday, August 13, 2019

concert review: Cabrillo Festival

So I say pretty much enough about the concert in my review. Aside from assuring you that the last paragraph is true, and that I felt totally shattered and almost ill after the concerto, the only thing I feel like adding that didn't fit in is that Cabrillo is the only orchestra I know where both conductor and concertmaster play with untucked shirts.

The drafts contained a lot of apologetic material about my unfamiliarity with jazz, but I kept hacking that out. As I attributed to Marsalis, I see the various genres of music as having distinct aesthetic and artistic principles, which explains the common phenomenon of people who love one sort of music and loathe another. It turned out, on watching the hour's documentary on the concerto which Cabrillo embedded in its website, that the approach of classical and jazz musicians towards a score is profoundly different too and that this caused some conflict between Marsalis and his soloist. His reaction towards a query about how to play a passage was to rewrite it, because to him the score is just the reflection of his thoughts, but this was disastrous to a classical performer, whose attitude is that the score is basic. Learn it, decide exactly what you want your bow and left fingers (if you're a string player) to do, memorize and internalize this, and only then are you ready to start building your personal interpretation and expression on top of it.

Even though I'm not a performer, that may explain my affinity to classical. I hate being told to improvise or be creative at anything unless I am already completely confident in doing it in the straight and default manner. Then I have the confidence to cut loose and play around, and that applies to almost any learned skill from dancing to cooking to driving.

In any case, it's easy for me to see classical and jazz as distinct, as my reactions to them are so different. I have loved the idiom and language of classical since the first time I heard a Beethoven symphony, while jazz, though I don't loathe it as I do some pop idioms, mostly washes off me leaving no trace in my head or heart. And this remained true no matter how many hours I spent in my youth browsing in dusty used book stores where inevitably there was jazz on the stereo system. Nor is this because I wasn't listening carefully, because I've certainly often had the experience of having my mind totally commanded by some music I wasn't paying conscious attention to at all, if it's music I have a strong affinity to.

1 comment:

  1. Except for organists, who are still expected to be able to improvise, the improvisatory tradition has largely died in classical music. As recently as the 19th c., pianists, singers, and others were expected to have the ability to improvise. There are all sorts of Baroque era manuals that cover improvisation, etc.