Monday, October 1, 2007

" 'Planting Bombs Under Their Seats"

This past weekend I played two concerts with the C. A. Symphony. We performed Weber's Overture to Oberon, the Saint-Saëns cello concerto (with a BSO cellist as soloist), and Beethoven's famed 5th Symphony. The concerts weren't great, but in terms of terrible quality, the program notes far outshone the performances! They wandered aimlessly across a wide variety of topics with no focus or clear direction. The style was bad, the grammar was atrocious, and unnecessary punctuation marks were inserted here and there as careless typos. I am typing select passages below for you all to enjoy:

"Today's program, covers Romanticism in the 19th Century."

"To the early romantics, the big man--Beethoven always excepted--was Carl Maria von Weber and a good case for him can be made as the first of the true Romantics. He met most of the specifications. He was a major pianist--a touring virtuoso, his music was ahead of its time, he wrote operas on supernatural subjects, he dabbled in literature, and he had the fashionable disease--consumption, which carried him off at the age of 40."

"It is not generally realized that Saint Saens [sic] was an awesome child prodigy. He possessed the gifts of a very high IQ, absolute pitch, and he could read and write before he was three, when he composed his first piece."

"The most popular operatic composer of the period was Jules Massenet, but I notice that he is not on Saint Saens' list of great French composers. He is not on mine either."

"I suppose in opera you can get away with anything if the audiences loved it. They still do."

"Beethoven, unlike musicians before him, considered himself an artist and he stood up for his rights as an artist. He kicked open the doors, stormed in and made himself at home. And he had what Mozart lacked - a powerful personality that awed all those who came in contact with him. This high-voltage personality was coupled with an equally high-voltage order of genius. Beethoven had been a child prodigy and he suffered from the same syndrom as Mozart when he emerged as an adult - immaturity. He was the greatest pianist of his time, but where pianists before him elegantly wooed an audience, Beethoven's performance tactics were more like 'planting [sic] bombs under their seats."

"Unlike Mozart who carried everything in his head and then all he had to do was copy out the material, Beethoven struggled for four years to get this piece to the perfection in his mind."

"That motto theme [sic] permeates -- sometimes to a roar, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes as a barely audible throbbing in the depths of the orchestra."
(This is regarding the infamous theme of the first movement, which is, in fact, the only movement even discussed in the program notes. Nice.)

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