Latest Blogger Updates

What's New in the Composers Forum

CD Reviews


Latest Podcasts at

340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Jerry Bowles
(212) 582-3791

Managing Editor:
David Salvage

Contributing Editors:

Galen H. Brown
Evan Johnson
Ian Moss
Lanier Sammons
Deborah Kravetz
Eric C. Reda
Christian Hertzog
(San Diego)
Jerry Zinser
(Los Angeles)

Web & Wiki Master:
Jeff Harrington

Latest Posts

What's Happening Today?
Five world premieres in West Palm Beach
Last Night in LA--The Sound of Art
Anthony De Mare�s �Gotham Glory� at Zankel
What's New for Tuesday?
Penn Sounds: Settlement Music School
New Today
Last Night in LA--Pleasant
Open Warfare at La Scala


Record companies, artists and publicists are invited to submit CDs to be considered for review. Send to: Jerry Bowles, Editor, Sequenza 21, 340 W. 57th Street, 12B, New York, NY 10019

Thursday, March 17, 2005
Another Take on De Mare's N.Y. - From Frank J. Oteri

After reading David Salvage's comments yesterday morning about Anthony De Mare's Zankel Hall recital on the Ides of March, it seemed like, as the clich� goes, "I was at a completely different concert." Now 24-hours later, with his what-I-believe-to-be irresponsible and uninformed assessment of the evening still irritating me, I feel compelled to respond. What's a critic to do indeed...

Like many a Zankel new music evening, De Mare's gig attempted a new type of concert environment incorporating multi-media elements plus odd, constantly shifting lighting. For David Del Tredici's Gotham Glory, De Mare's performance was accompanied by video footage from Anney Bonney, but you'd never know that from reading Mr. Salvage who merely goes apoplectic over how much he disliked the last movement of this piece which he described as a "gargantuan multi-movement opus." (By DDT's own standards, this new four-movement piano composition—the size of most standard repertoire sonatas—is short, even though it is his longest solo piano work to date.) Mr. Del Tredici's greatest offense seems to be that he composed a "simple waltz�any waltz will do" which modernist aesthetics must strictly forbid. This, of course, is a battle that Del Tredici fought and won a generation ago, but then again that's ultimately not what's going on in the last movement. Any waltz will not do. That final movement, which should have given away its secret by its title "Wollman Rink," is an obsessive fantasy around Waldteufel's "Skater's Waltz" immediately identifiable by anyone who has ever skated in or even walked past that Central Park institution, so much for being able to "genuinely absorb the environment" of New York City. But even if you hadn't ever felt the urge to subject yourself to skateworld, Bonney's equally obsessive Busby Berkeley-esque footage should have helped you out. And then of course there were Joseph Dalton's excellent program notes which explained the thing, which if you didn't have a chance to read that night can be accessed here.

Then there was Jason Robert Brown's Mr. Broadway, which this usually musical theatre-oriented composer�he won a Tony a few years back for Parade�described as his first adult concert hall composition. Salvage heard a "Gershwin/Bernstein hodge-podge of pungent harmony and 'fascinatin�' rhythm." I heard a composer extending his vocabulary in new and challengingly contrapuntal ways. The slow last movement which, according to Salvage, "destroyed any sense of formal balance the piece may have boasted until then" certainly was disconcerting; pieces are supposed to end fast and flashy, aren't they? Who is feeling "constrained by musical convention" here in the final analysis? Even a modernist of the highest pedigree, T.S. Eliot, conceded that the world will not end with a bang but with a whimper, so, maybe, like in the case of DDT's forbidden waltz, the thought police should reconsider.

Salvage's comments about Paul Moravec came across to me as a need to take the "reigning Pulitzer laureate" down a few notches. Many critics think that's their job after all. Fred Hersch's lovely saloon songs were deemed a "very slight artistic achievement." Perhaps Salvage expected more after the New York premiere of Hersch's masterpiece Leaves of Grass the previous Friday—which even The New York Times recognized—although my guess is he wouldn't have wanted to be there. Salvage was even "weirded out" by De Mare's concert's opener, Meredith Monk�s Gotham Lullaby, a composition with "kitchy arpeggios" he deemed less than worthy of De Mare's pianistic abilities. I continue to be transfixed by De Mare's seemingly-impossible translation of one of Monk's most personal utterances which has been a mainstay of his own recital repertoire for many years.

But, hey, maybe Mr. Salvage sincerely didn't like any of the music on the program. He's entitled to his opinion. We are after all still living in a free society, right? Well, to be fair, he did like Rzewski's widely-performed De Profundis, although he failed to note one of the more eventful elements of De Mare's otherwise probing performance of it: the fact that De Mare, after attempting Herculean feats in this recital had planned to end by playing his signature piece (Rzewski wrote it for him) from memory but could not and stopped after about a few minutes in, apologizing to the audience. After returning to the stage with a score, De Mare delivered an extremely probing reading, much subtler and forlorn as befits a prison letter than even the composer's own often viscerally angry performance at Zankel last season, and the audience was more than forgiving in cheers of approval. But it proves that the rest of the program was hardly "music well beneath his level of artistry." In fact, I have to admit that much as I was moved by De Mare's performance of the Rzewski, it seemed somewhat out of place—being about Oscar Wilde and Victorian England—in an already long and physically taxing program devoted to music inspired by New York City.

Well, as Salvage concedes, "reality in New York is never simple." But clearly neither was most of the music on this program even it was defiantly not atonal and frequently not dissonant, as if those are the only legitimate signifiers of life in the city that never sleeps. I've lived in New York City my whole life. In fact, I grew up in the tourist mecca of Midtown that Mr. Salvage claims is ill-conveyed by music of insufficient "complexity." In addition to the seemingly endless unraveling contrapuntal stream that is rush hour at Penn Station, I've also experienced stillness on Times Square in the middle of the night and, believe it or not, even joy at picking out the overtones in the endless repetition of a car alarm after the annoyance subsided. But hey, this shouldn't be about me but about the concert. Aren't readers entitled to a report on what actually at a concert and not a self-serving rant? Unfortunately, from the tone of his commentary, Mr. Salvage doesn't seem to agree. Frank J. Oteri, Editor, NewMusicBox


12/19/2004 - 12/25/2004 12/26/2004 - 01/01/2005 01/02/2005 - 01/08/2005 01/09/2005 - 01/15/2005 01/16/2005 - 01/22/2005 01/23/2005 - 01/29/2005 01/30/2005 - 02/05/2005 02/06/2005 - 02/12/2005 02/13/2005 - 02/19/2005 02/20/2005 - 02/26/2005 02/27/2005 - 03/05/2005 03/06/2005 - 03/12/2005 03/13/2005 - 03/19/2005 03/20/2005 - 03/26/2005 03/27/2005 - 04/02/2005 04/03/2005 - 04/09/2005 04/10/2005 - 04/16/2005 04/17/2005 - 04/23/2005 04/24/2005 - 04/30/2005 05/01/2005 - 05/07/2005 05/08/2005 - 05/14/2005 05/15/2005 - 05/21/2005 05/22/2005 - 05/28/2005 05/29/2005 - 06/04/2005 06/05/2005 - 06/11/2005 06/12/2005 - 06/18/2005 06/19/2005 - 06/25/2005 06/26/2005 - 07/02/2005 07/03/2005 - 07/09/2005 07/10/2005 - 07/16/2005 07/17/2005 - 07/23/2005 07/24/2005 - 07/30/2005 07/31/2005 - 08/06/2005 08/07/2005 - 08/13/2005 08/14/2005 - 08/20/2005 08/21/2005 - 08/27/2005 08/28/2005 - 09/03/2005 09/04/2005 - 09/10/2005 09/11/2005 - 09/17/2005 09/18/2005 - 09/24/2005 09/25/2005 - 10/01/2005 10/02/2005 - 10/08/2005 10/09/2005 - 10/15/2005 10/16/2005 - 10/22/2005 10/23/2005 - 10/29/2005 10/30/2005 - 11/05/2005 11/06/2005 - 11/12/2005 11/13/2005 - 11/19/2005 11/20/2005 - 11/26/2005 11/27/2005 - 12/03/2005 12/04/2005 - 12/10/2005 12/11/2005 - 12/17/2005 12/18/2005 - 12/24/2005 12/25/2005 - 12/31/2005 01/01/2006 - 01/07/2006 01/08/2006 - 01/14/2006 01/15/2006 - 01/21/2006 01/22/2006 - 01/28/2006 01/29/2006 - 02/04/2006 02/05/2006 - 02/11/2006 02/12/2006 - 02/18/2006 02/19/2006 - 02/25/2006 02/26/2006 - 03/04/2006 03/05/2006 - 03/11/2006 03/12/2006 - 03/18/2006 03/19/2006 - 03/25/2006 03/26/2006 - 04/01/2006 04/02/2006 - 04/08/2006 04/09/2006 - 04/15/2006 04/16/2006 - 04/22/2006 04/23/2006 - 04/29/2006 04/30/2006 - 05/06/2006 05/07/2006 - 05/13/2006 05/14/2006 - 05/20/2006 05/21/2006 - 05/27/2006 05/28/2006 - 06/03/2006 06/04/2006 - 06/10/2006 06/11/2006 - 06/17/2006 06/18/2006 - 06/24/2006 06/25/2006 - 07/01/2006 07/02/2006 - 07/08/2006 07/09/2006 - 07/15/2006 07/16/2006 - 07/22/2006 07/23/2006 - 07/29/2006 07/30/2006 - 08/05/2006 08/06/2006 - 08/12/2006 08/13/2006 - 08/19/2006 08/20/2006 - 08/26/2006 08/27/2006 - 09/02/2006 09/03/2006 - 09/09/2006 09/10/2006 - 09/16/2006

Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to this feed listing