19 October 2018

Banter about White Nights

Nine years ago today (19 Oct 2009), most peculiarly–perhaps–the topic of the ballet arose:

Cato’s Little Review of “Noise in the Library”

Allow me to share my thoughts on some of Karl’s works which were performed in Boston at the library a few weeks ago.

GMG members have read my comments in the past years about how chamber music is not my favorite thing, in general, although there are exceptions: Borodin’s and Ravel’s quartets, the Bartók Sixth, the frustrated symphony in the Bruckner Quintet, and Bernard Herrmann’s Echoes are the main ones.

Karl’s works join this august group with no problem!

Heedless Watermelon shows an abundance of imagination: one measure of a work’s worth for me is how much did it surprise me, e.g. could I guess the next note(s)?  Heedless Watermelon was a fun maze to hear, always intriguing and expressive.  Irreplaceable Doodles (solo clarinet) strikes me as being more meditative and serious than its title, and therefore on the CD led nicely into The Angel Who Bears a Flaming Sword (solo flute). Since a flute always has a certain slight melancholy in its timbre, I wonder if the instrument does not express the idea behind the work even better than a trumpet.  Studies in Impermanence must by definition show a meditative nature:  mysterious, ebullient, sad, and almost every other mood appears.  I find the work a Gregorian Chant summary of life.  Lost Waters is a perfect work for solo harp:  the music contains an Americana flavor and provides the image from and for its inspiration without clichés.  (Passaic was particularly dramatic in a subtle way.)

And the Tropes on Pasha’s [sic] Aria from White Nights – although under 3 minutes long – must enthuse every listener to want the completed ballet performed!

To paraphrase Rex Harrison’s Pope Julius to Charlton Heston’s Michelangelo: “When will you make an end of it, Karl?” [emoticon redacted]

To which A Virtual Neighbor (despairing of a completed ballet) replied:

Probably 3-5 years from now. [emoticon redacted]

To which I rejoined:

I’ll accept the short end of that range. That is, if I haven’t finished it in three years (by the end of 2012, say) I’ll officially consider the project jettisoned.

Well, I have never considered anything of the sort, not officially, not unofficially.  I suppose I was just trying to light a fire under mine self.

I guess it did not much work.

Anyway, I was talking to Peter Bloom about Il barbiere ladro just the other day (after we returned to Somerville from the King’s Chapel concert, in fact).  The piece’s fanciful intercutting of the Overtures to La gazza ladra and Il barbiere di Seviglia made a particularly powerful impression on Peter.  I told him that I knew, in principle, just what I wanted to do with that scene, from the very first outline I prepped for the ballet.  But I also knew that, since the entire musically literate world would be “in” on the joke, I had to be sure I did it right.  And, as I believe I have done it right, at last, the time that has passed has not been any delay, but simply a composer awaiting the music’s moment.

So–what am I saying, today, about the long-awaited completion of the Op.75?  The composer has music he must prepare for his church choir for a December concert, and a light-duty task for mezzo Megan Ihnen and saxophonist/composer Alan Theissen.  When those tasks are in the can . . . I believe that may be just the right time to resume work on the ballet; and since what remains to compose is now such a relatively compact requisite, it is very possible that the work will go speedily.

As ever, Gentle Reader:  Watch This Space.

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