March 19, 2011 1:40:25 AM EDT
Estonian conductor Anu Tali’s platinum ponytail over her musician’s-black uniform beating a metronomic 4/4: was mesmerizing. Heiner G. said in an interview that he knows he’ll always be confused with Joseph G., Hitler’s minister of propaganda. So he’s inoculated himself from this by setting passionate cantorial singing, sampled in his Sampler Suite, from Surrogate Cities. It began with a lighting blast on a male bass drum player smacking the instrument, two handed, with giant switches. It did take the breath away. Was the piece, as a whole, brilliant imagination or crap with brilliant lighting?… He “micromanages” the lighting according to one orchestra member. The whole stage dramatically changes its illumination at apt musical moments. In the Stein piece, it is in the score that the downstage part of the orchestra is all women (dressed in solid colors), who recite on mic and also play the orchestral instruments, while at the back are the men players dressed in black, who never recite. Stein’s World War II text, “Wars I have seen” was Goebbels 2007 hommage to her 1943 observations of everyday life in her adopted France. A friend in the audience, a holocaust survivor, was revolted by Stein’s line that “you could always get butter.” He said butter was unobtainable, and he only tasted peanut butter after the war. He fried it with an egg; called Stein “superficial.” I suggested that maybe in southern France she had a neighbor with a cow. Butter was next door. Spectacular playing by the London Sinfonietta, and a newer ensemble, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The latter (women) did the Stein aided by the men from the Sinfonietta. Not like American, Canadian, or even most European music said another friend. Orchestra as theater. Not since Fellini’s hilarious, “Orchestra Rehearsal.” But Goebbels is suitably serious, even “Germanic.” And NOT boring. Interesting that both orchestras were 20th Century versions of the 16th-17 century “broken consort.” (Approx. one of each instrument.) The festival of the new hall ends, demonstrates that the social redesign of this high-art temple is successful: the new Tully Hall is fun for mingling, and for listening to music. Some eating and drinking too. Thumbnail review. Spring means music overload.