It was a hot day in
The concert was well-received, altho attended by more older people than students. Possibly because of the $32 price tag. Their Nancarrow repertoire is far less cool than their previous projects. Their recording of acoustic versions of Aphex Twin songs was highlighted by the New York Times as a must-hear; their live concerts of it involved a whole slew of crazy instruments to imitate the electronic sounds. As trendy as it is to arrange Nancarrow’s Studies for Player Piano for chamber musicians, & as exciting as it can be to perform the crazy rhythms & dual-tempos live & well, these arrangements seemed very muddy. Two of them, Study for Player Piano No. 3A “Boogie-Woogie Suite” (arranged by Derek Bermel of Bang On A Can) & No. 2A (arr. by Gavin Chuck) are heavy on the jazz & rag influence, which is fun but a little cheesy in performance. It is a chaotic-big-band sound which results, in comparison to the recordings of the piano rolls, in which the rag-timey ones sound like Silvestre Revueltes put a Gershwin roll thru a textile machine. I guess what I’m trying to say is: that you’d think orchestrating the music would bring more of what’s going on out of the thick texture, but the opposite is the result. Alarm Will Sound had much of this music memorized, & they often stand & walk around the stage while playing it, which to me seems maddeningly difficult – but the successful effect is that you’re watching a cohesive band that knows its stuff & enjoys what they do (sometimes a rarity in the performance of 20th Century Classics.) I guess they have no plans to record this music, & are putting it to rest pretty soon. I actually liked the performances of Nancarrow's pre-player-piano music much better, especially the meaty string quartet.
Coincidentally, last week, I finally got in the mail the CD/DVD of
As for the genre, I feel like this is the first real live concert of Reich’s music that isn’t blabbed over by “interviews” (i.e., people saying boring things that aren’t as interesting as the music they’re blocking.) I know of several films or movies of Philip Glass’s music where the editors, operating under the assumption that the music is too dull to stand by itself, casually mix the interviews over it. Last week, I was watching that documentary about John Adams, Hail Bop, & they rarely let us hear more than twenty uninterrupted seconds of his music. A crucial element of this style is letting the audience get into the grooves & repetitions. Anyway, this is a live concert not a documentary, but especially with this kind of minimalism, it benefits from being performed well on video & uninterrupted. Also, did I mention you can see me sitting in the audience?