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November 26, 1969 - Image 2

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Page Two

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Wednesday, November 26, 196c,

Page Two THE MICHIGAN DAiLY

music

Classics:

'Made

in

ByR . A. Pmi
When the Japanese repair a
piece of broken pottery or por-
celain, they do not seek to hide
the crack but rather celebrate
it with an applied golden seam.
Only a Japanese orchestra could
have dreamed up such a deco-
rative, garish concert as the
NHK Symphony presented last
night in Hill Auditorium. Pro-
grammed was Mayuzumi's bal-
let suite entitled Bugaku, Kha-
chaturian's Violin Concerto, and
Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.
One came to the concert full
of expectations: would a Japa-
nese orchestra stand up to West-
ern models in regard to sound
and discipline; how would their
interpretations compare stylis-
tically? The answer to the first
question can only be affirma-
tive, but the disciplined ensem-
ble soon became less engrossing
as the orchestra's stylistic aber-
rations grew more apparent.
In Tchaikovsky's Fifth Sym-
phony, for instance, the NHK
were constantly stretching tem-
pos in the most arbitrarily elas-
tic manner; phrases would be
slowed and elongated or, con-
versely, would be hurried at.
their endings in an exaggerated
manner. The effect of this silly-
putty tension was that an end-
less series of minor climaxes
were built up within phrases
while no long-ranged architec-
tonic concept tied musical ideas
toge ther.
For Tchaikovsky, such an ap-
proach is simply deadly. The
composer himself wrote that "I
cannot complain of poverty of
imagination, or lack of inventive
power: but on the other hand,
1 have always suffered from my
want of skill in management of
form. Only after strenuous labor
have I at last succeeded in
making the form of my compo-
sitions correspond with their
contents." By fragmenting tem-
pos, Hiroyuki Iwaki, the con-
ductor of the NHK, destroyed
what cohesive form Tchaikov-
sky could produce.
In another letter to Mme.
von Meek, Tchaikovsky is more
revealing: When inspired, he
writes, "the soul throbs with an
incomprehensible and indescrib-
able excitment . . Everything
that flows from one's pen, or
merely passes through one's

Japan
Yoshio Unno performed with
enormous technical mastery;
clean, correct notes flewx from
his bow with firm assurance of
pitch. Without demeaning Mr.
Unno's accomplishments, it must
still be said that what the music
nedq, if it is to have any mean-
ingful existence at. all, is a bit
of Russian gypsy schmaltz--the
kind of hamming that Heifitz
or Francescatti can handle with-
out losing control of the part's
virtuoso requirements. Mr. Unno
is one hell of a whiz with his
instrument, but he showed little
understanding of the roots of
Khachaturian's music.
Opening the program, Toshiro
Mayuzumi's Bugaku offered the
most enjoyment by far. Mayu-
zumi, born in 1929, represents
that pastiche unique to Japan
wherein an artist tries to unite
contemporary Western and tra-
ditional Japanese forms. Thus
we find in Bugaku, a ballet suite
commissioned by George Bal-
anchine, certain sounds of Ja-
panese court music --suggested
by elliding and pizzicato strings.
by flute calls sliding in pitch,
Lee by numerous sharp percussive
efects -enneshed in a Western
symphonic ambient of sustained
movements of massed instru-
ar~ inents. Tie piece works best,
pos that is, most interestingly, when
individual instruments speak
ky 21 directly in voices simultaneously
1o pern and abstract; the piece
rto is less interesting when massed
rd, strings surge like orchestral
swells in La Mer. In general, the
ay- composition tends in its second
or half to fall apart into disjointed
ul-
.. sonic events.

"Liza Minnelli has given a performance which is so funny, so
moving, so perfectly crafted and realized that it should win her an
Academy Award but probably won't, because Oscar is archaic and
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-- Daily--Richard L

brain under these circumstances
is invariably good, and if no
external obstacle comes to hin-
der the creative glow, the result
will be an artist's best and most
p e r f e c t work. Unfortunately,
such external hindrances are
inevitable . . . Hence the joins,
patches, inequalites and dis-
crepancies." It must be the con-
ductor's responsibility, not only
w i t h Tchaikovsky's basically
fragile music (!) but with all
compositions, to smooth the
"joins" and make less momen-
tous those discrepant "patches."
Hiroyuki Iwaki and the NHK
only found new seams.
That they did so is curious,
and if the blame may be lifted
from the conductor's shoulders,
two answers might be offered.
One, the Japanese aesthetic it-
self is one which appreciates
isoiated units or events that
may be stretched but neverthe-
less have definite, separate
boundaries. Secondly, sticking
more closely to musical style, is
the fact that the most revered
Western conductor In Japan Is

a man himself noted for thea
bitrary manipulation of temp
-Wilhelm Furtwangler.
Preceding the Tchaikovs
Aram Khachaturian's V i o 1
Concerto was performed by so
ist Yoshio Unno. The conce
-tedious, crass, simple-mind
and ingenuine-is usually pla
ed (for instance by Ormandy
Bernstein) for all its zircon v
garity; the NKL, however,
understating such vulgarity,r
vealed the work's broad found
tion of intolerable boredom.
The first movement thro
together two contrasting them
in a most rudimental and ban
manner, and at endless lengt
the second movement, a sop
ific andante, is eminently f
gettable and proves that there
more to serenity that a lack
noise; the third movenw
breaks whatever folk-dance n
mentum it builds by the incl
ion of a retrospective s I
recitative.
I

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