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November 26, 1968 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-11-26

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THE MICHIGAN DAILY

'r.._T _ _ _ _ _ r _n

I

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

T uesday, November 26, 1968

3

music-
Menuhin:An experience with a man's music

By R. A. PERRY
Sonata in A ...........Brahms
Sonata No. 1 ..........Bartok
Sonata in A ........Beethoven
The recital by Yehudi Menu-
hin and his sister Hephzibah
this past Sunday was a most
curious affair. When the con-
cert closed and the crowd
spewed out of Hill Aud., half of
the people looked ecstatic and
half looked quite disgruntled.
To some, the violinist was down-
right sloppy and erratic; for
others, the sins of performance
'style were irrelevant in light of
the total effect of Menuhin's in-
spired musical searching. Ver-
sonally, I thought the concert
was one of the great musical
experiences to have ignited the
Hill stage in years, yet I can
understand the views of the dis-
enchanted.
It must be admitted that Men-

uhin appeared totally ncon-
cerned with impressing the audi-
ence with technique, polish,
sophistication, precision, beau-
tiful sound, or even tonal quali-
ties of the violin. On the con-
trary, his tone was exceedingly
dry, anddhis approach humble;
he regarded the audience not as
a group to impress but as indi-
viduals invited into his study to
share some intimate music-
making.
Menuhin did not seek another
slick, perfect reproduction of the
score; getting over the techni-
cal hurdles with brio and a re-
spectable degree of Infeeling
was not a sufficient goal for
him. All right, granted the ,re-
futed facile approach; does that
still excuse the many mistakes
(especially in the first move-
ment of the Beethoven "Kreut-
zer" Sonata), the vagaries of
pitch, and the sloppy bowing?

To !many the answer will be a
resounding "No," yet I would
like to ask the following ques-
tion in turn: What is a mistake
in an experience?
Errors of judgment and mis-
takes in technique can really
only apply to the reproduction
of a predetermined event; Men-
uhin did not treat the score as
such, but as a starting point (not
as the finish line) for his won-
derfully spontaneous searching
out and in a musical experi-
ence. Menuhin has always been
interested in Asian music-wit-
ness his recordings with that
genius of improvisation, Ravi
Shankar-and I think the effect
of such concerns for authentic
experience was evident in Sun-
day's recital.
The Chinese like to say (and
we have little equipment to deny
them) that a man's entire char-
acter can be read in his brush

style, in his calligraphy. Like-
wise, for the first time in my
concert-going career, I felt that
I was listening to the whole
man, not merely to the voca-
tional aspect of the artist in his
highly-trained and hopefully
sensitive concert role. Menuhin's
performance revealed the in-
tegrity, humility, and honesty
of the man through his rendi-
tion that refused to rely on ex-
pected reiterations and respon-
ses to the score. His were not
recreations, they were creations.
Thus even the mistakes played
a positive part. Somewhat like
the spatial ambiguities in a
Chinese painting, which force
you to experience possibilities
of perspective and ifronies of
dimensionality on a flat sur-
face, the pitch imprecisions ob-
viated passive following of line
and demanded the listener al-
ways consider the possibilities

FORGIVE the mistakes

in the musical progression. Per-
haps, too, Menuhin's approach
indicated that the composer's
creative process can be best
suggested through the perform-
er's infinitesimal indecisions.
Sister Hephzibah does not
possess either the technique nor
the style to create the kind of
performance one expects from
a Rubinstein or a Clara Haskil,
to name only two of the pianists
associated with the Brahms or
Beethoven works. Too often
heavy-handed-but without be-
ing ponderous, her facility lacks
a desired quicksilver touch. For-
instance, she smothered the sec-
ond theme of the Andante in
the "Kreutzer" in a muddled
fussiness that did not allow the
song to emerge. The terrible
piano Hill provides did not help
much.
Nevertheless, her approach
and her feeling for the music
so paralled that of her brother's
that she never detracted from
the musical impact. Indeed, the
Menuhins offered a perfect
partnership in technique and
spirit.
The Bartok sonata was played
with special meaningful insight.
Usually performed for its virtu-
oso content and its near barbar-
ous rhythms and contrasts, the
piece received under the sensi-
tive bow of Yehudi Menuhin a
vital reading whose energy never
came from without, but always
came from within the inherent
problems and processes the
music concerned itself with.
The second movement, an Adag-
io placed up in the higher oc-
taves, was ,exquisitively sensi-
tive, but more, absolutely con-
vincing in its sincerity of feel-
ing.

theatre-
UP's win contest
The University Players' production of Harold Pinter's The
Homecoming, which was presented Oct. 30-Nov. 2 as the Players'
entry in the first American College Theatre Festival, has been
selected for the semi-final contest to be held at Ohio University
Dec. 3-4.
The play, which received a highly favorable review from Daily
theatre critic Michael J. Allen, was entered in statewide competition
against productions from Wayne State University, Western Michi-
gan University, Mackinac College, Marygrove College and Olivet
College.
Entries from Bowling Green State University, Indiana Uni-
versity, Ohio University, Evansville College, Hiram College and a
yet-to-be-selected school in Pennsylvania will provide the Players'
competition in the semi-finals.
Winners of the semi-final round will join other regional semi-
firial winners to stage their plays at the American College Theatre
Festival in the newly-restored Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.,
next spring.
The Festival is organized and produced by the American Ed-
ucational, Theatre Association and the American National Theatre
and .Academy, under the sponsorship of American Airlines, the
Friends of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
and the Smithsonian Institution.
In his review, which appeared in The Daily Oct. 31, Allen
said the James Coakley-directed production "presents a version of
the play which is convincing, which has six really promising actors
in it, which has variety and pace and some magnificent pauses."
And, "This is theatre of the absurd; the University Players make
the absurdity of our condition ludicrously familiar."

'London Symhonies': Logical lo gistics

In a letter to a Vienna news-
paper, Joseph Haydn wrote in
1779: "The free arts and the
beautiful science of composition
will not tolerate technical
chains. The mind and soul must
be free." A year later, Haydn's
long-standing patron, Prince
Esterhazy, died, and the com-
poser was suddenly free of em-
ployment. In stepped Johann
Salomon, musician and impre-
sario at the center of London's
musical life, who eagerly con-
tracted Haydn for a series of
English concerts.
In the "London Symphonies"
which followed, Haydn delighted
the English as he explored the
freedom of techniques and ef-
fects so important to him. The
twelve symphonies t h a t he
wrote for Salomon during the
years 1791-1795 are today rec-
ognized- as being the high-point
of the composer's orchestral ef-
forts, and indeed the English
then thought so too. One critic
rhapsodized at the premiere of
No. 96, "It is no wonder that to
souls capable of being touched
by music, Haydn should be an
object of homage, and even of
idolatry; for like our own
Shakespeare, he moves and gov-
erns the passions at his will."
Comparisons to the Bard don't
come easily on that Emerald
Isle.
Haydn was not a metaphysic-
ian in sound; on the contrary,
he sought to excite and please
his audience. The forte "sur-
prise" of No. 94 came admittedly
to "arouse the ladies." Likewise
the "military" episode of No.
100, full of drum rolls, trumpet
signals, leaping strings, and
"turkish music," was calculated
to bring down the house.
Surprise in his music does not
rx ixZiiX Ir r
I ~E
ac1siro0 1 11Ade e: 931

i

only stem from such stage ef-
fects but from his general aver-
sion for the expected; Haydn
constantly teases us at the last
moment by altering the logical
sequence of events without ever
seeming illogical. Even the Ada-
gio introductions to the sym-
phonies are never perfunctory.
They instill "a sense of expect-
ancy that may be likened to the
slow climb on the first hill of
a roller coaster. We teeter on
the top for a second and then
rush headlong into the gaiety
that follows.
Recorded performances of
these twelve "London Symphon-
les" have been plentiful in our
generation. As a complete set,
Beecham's readings command a
certain deserved reverence;
there exists an all-pervasive,
non-affected elanl in Beecham's
performances that have never
been equaled. Walter's usual
warm approach stresses the ov-
erall, long structure of the
works; nevertheless he blurs too
many details to be effective on
a minute-to-minute basis. Rei-
ner's reading of No. 95 was that
conductor's last recording and
it is thoroughly outstanding for
its orchestral precision, control,
and brio. One the Vanguard Ev-
eryman series can be f o u n d
stylish performances of some of
the symphonies by Mogens Wol-
dike.
Now Nonesuch adds to that
list a splendid set by the English
Haydn specialist Leslie Jones,
who leads a group called The
Little Orchestra of London. The
six records in this specially box-
ed and priced set (HF-73019)

have many points to recommend
them.
In general, Jones achieves a
perfect balance between strings
and winds; that is, without ever
highlighting the winds (as Bern-
stein too often does), Jones re-
veals every instrumental line in
an orchestral sound that is com-
pletely transparent. Further-
more, Jones finds a very good
balance between massing string
sound .and concertante groups
when these two are juxtaposed.
These performances exhibit
convincing enthusiasm. Wheth-
er involved in tutto passages or
in solo work, the players show
great spirit that never, well al-
most never, blurs the clean pre-
cision that Jones demands. The
strings have a beautifully silky
tone even in the highest and
fastest passeges; other sections
too sound quite fine and expres-
sively pointed.
A harpsichord (played by Har-
old Lester) is used and it will
sound strange to many listen-
ers. This scoring is new to me,
and I can only assume t h a t
Jones had good textual evidence
for incorporating t he instru-
ment into these 1 a t e works.
Personally, I found its effect
quite pleasing; a g a i n s t the
massed orchestra it added a
glimmer like mica bits catching
the light on a mountain side.

Only occasionally does it take
what may be called a major role
as in the Allegro con Spirito of
No. 103 where it plays off
against the violins; I found the
effect great fun, a quality, Hay-
dn certainly would have ap-
proved of.
Jones rarely fails. The Ada-
gio of No. 102 and the Menuet-
to of No. 103, however, tend to
fragment into episodes which do
not have enough forward thrust
to plastically blend into a total
effect. Likewise, I found No. 96
somewhat heavy and uninspired,
lacking a motivating energy or
idea to unite the work as Beech-
am does.
Despite the minor criticisms,
this is definitely a set to own,
especially for anyone who likes
symphonies but doesn't know
where to begin in acquiring
these late Haydn works.
I should mention too that the
recorded sound is better than
anything you will hear on most
major labels. Nonesuch uses the
Dolby Audio Noise-Reduction
System and produces absolutely
clean, quiet surfaces. The stereo
spread is completely convincing;
no over-reverberation, a n d n1o
end-groove distortion exist at
all; no inner voices are exagger-
ated in the manner that other
labels now use with distressing
frequency. The sound does not

project into the room artificial-
ly, and if you turn up the vol-
ume, you will hear what its all
about.
Haydn's Symphonies No. 93
and 94 as performed by George
Szell and the Cleveland, Orches-
tra (Columbia MS 7006) will
give many people much plea-
sure. They will admire the
graceful shaping of musical
lines, the perfectly fused instru-
mental parts, the precision of
the strings, the unobtrusively
good-natured tempos, the unity
of expression - in other words,
all of the things that make the
Cleveland Orchestra the highly
respected organization it is.
For me these performances
are quite pleasant to listen to as
background music to other ac-
tivities. When listened to close-
ly, they betray deceptive ener-
vation untrue to Haydn's spirit,
missing sparks of enthusiasm in
the soloists' professional work,
a n d subliminially tight reins
holding tempos back just the
shade they need to really bloom
forth. This Is Haydn purified
and refined by the grace and
sophistication of the ageing
George Szell.
--R.A.P.
HAPPY
THANKSGIVING
from
The Dascola.Barbers
(near the Mich. Theater)

WTTO PRESENTS
the association

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DIAL 8-6416
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IN CONCERT

University of Toledo Field House
Toledo, Ohio
Sunday, December 15
7 P.M.
TI C KETS $4.50, 3.50, 2.50

4

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ANNOUNCING
GRAND OPENING of
the Nissen Hul Coffee House
HAMBURG, MICHIGAN
(15 minutes north of Ann Arbor)
10555 Hall Road, one Block off M-36
FRIDAY, Nov. 29, 8:00 P.M. "The Goldfinger"
(bring your youth)
SATURDAY, Nov. 30, 8:00 P.M. Miss Gayle Pemberton
(bring "soul")

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XEROX
COPIES
Fast-Cheap
211 S. State
769-4252
1217 S. University
769-0560

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R. H. Philipp, Owner
1031 E. Ann, near the hospitals

DIAL 5-6290
Daily at 1:00-3:45-6:30-9:10
Now for the
first time
at popular prices.
Direct from
its reserved-seat
engagement.

ron
dopte \las ic
rost u
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T rsday r C's y
Thrsa: M. ot s Hliay

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MAIL ORDER
Please send check or money order to:
Toledo Theatrical Productions, 4427 T61m.adge Rd.,
Suite K, Toledo, Ohio 43623
Please find check or money order enclosed for tickets.
Name Address
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City State Zip_' Phone
--- -----------------------
the association

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UNION-LEAGUE

Want to see the latest
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Thanksgiving May Be Your Last Chance!
WHILE YOU ARE HOME CHECK WITH YOUR FOLKS
TELL THEM:
1) These are the ONLY flights backed by The University
2) ONLY flights flying with Scheduled, Reliable I.A.T.A. Airlines (Sabena and Pan Am)
3) $220 is only a base rate. There will be a rebate when the nlane fills (as much as $25

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