Saturday, January 24, 2009

Avant Jarred

jarred - having an unpleasant, annoying or disturbing effect

Sad to say, but this was the most disappointing SPCO performance I've attended to date. It was an awful selection of pieces, and the performances were poorly executed. Is it possible that the musicians don't like 20th Century music any better than most audiences? Or do they think that atonal music is so esoteric that no one knows whether or not something is going wrong?

Not only were the performances mediocre (it seemed more like a performance for a music appreciation class), the use of amplified sound for the CD and the guitar was a major disappointment. If you're going to blend electronic and acoustic music, you might want to place the speakers in more sensible places and actually have a sound professional monitoring the mix.

The Copland was the only decent piece of the evening, and I think that was because the musicians seemed to actually like and understand it. The rest of the evening was pretty much a bust. This music is hard to do well, as this concert proved. Instead of endearing respect, appreciation, and enjoyment of 20th Century music, I'm afraid this concert gave or reinforced the impression that atonal and experimental music is either a stupid novelty or a boring waste of time.

◊ ◊ • • • 2/5

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra
Chamber Music Series
The Music Room, SPCO Center
St. Paul, January 23, 2009

Selections from John's Book of Alleged Dances for String Quartet and CD (John Adams)
Twilight Music for Horn, Violin, and Piano (John Harbison)
Two Pieces for String Quartet (Aaron Copland)
100 Greatest Dance Hits for Guitar & String Quartet (Aaron Jay Kernis)