Sunday, August 4, 2013

Teatro 3a

Not really theatre, but performance, so what the hey.  Went to the grand Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires' version of the Paris Opéra Garnier, and not too far off, either) on the theory that whatever was happening there would be glamorous.  And it was, in a kind of astringent intellectual way.  It was a piano recital, not in the grand theatre but in the austere grey brick centro de experimentación in the basement.  One of two evenings devoted to the complete works for solo piano of the American composer Elliott Carter. I thought I kind of knew what Carter's music was like, kind of like Philip Glass, right?  WRONG. His stuff is completely atonal, arrhythmic, exactly the completely random-sounding stuff about which people say, my two-year-old could make more musical sounds than that.

But I was there, and I have to say it wasn't half bad. I admit that 90 min was about 30 more than I really had in me to focus on.  It did take a lot of focus.  But in fact there was lots of fascinating stuff to listen to, when you let go of the idea that any of it was really going to sound like "music."

In fact at a certain point, listening to that atonal work made me think of the way I see, for example, a TV show here-- like, OK-- now we're in a sweet sensitive part.. now we're doing an intense angry thing... now we're being fast and intellectual... not quite sure what we're up to now... annnnd big finish!  I could get the shapes; only the specifics were alien to me.

The final thing to know about Elliott Carter is that he just died at the age of 104. His most prolific years were after his 90th birthday. So that's something to think about.

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