Sunday, February 4, 2024

concert review: Symphony San Jose

Having been otherwise occupied last Saturday, I attended the Sunday matinee of Symphony San Jose's program under instruction to review it. The review wasn't difficult to write and, unusually, I got it done by the next morning. If I'd waited for the deadline on Tuesday it would have been too late (see previous post).

The selling point of this concert was the concerto written as a collaboration between a composer and an A.I. program, which had been trained on the composer's own works. I considered this something of a gimmick and not a very successful one, insofar as the A.I.'s music sounded like a copy of the composer's and didn't go much of anywhere he didn't, despite his and the programmer's avowals in the pre-concert talk that it was dashingly creative and quickly passed beyond normal human ken or whatever.

But I tried not to be too declarative about this and mostly contented myself with a series of sarcastic remarks, not just about the A.I. concerto but for Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra, which, we were told, earned its way on the program due to its association with 2001, a movie with a malevolent A.I. in it.

That seemed to me rather dim grounds for making the audience sit through half an hour of Straussian sludge, just for the opening fanfare, spectacular as it is. But they did at least do a good job with the piece as a whole.

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