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October 19, 1978 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-10-19

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The Michigan Daily-Thursday, October 19, 1978-Page 7

Fodor:Vapid showmanship

By OWEN GLEIBERMAN
"Ladieeees and gentlemen!" bellows
the burly announcer through his
megaphone. "In the center ring,
presenting the amazing, stupendous
Fodor, the fantastic fiddling wizard!"
The crowd turns toward the figure
standing nobly beneath the spotlight,
ready to watch him perform a set of
musical imarvels more awesome than
the death-defying feats of the trapeze
artist, and more intricate than the most
superhuman juggling act. With the
Eugene Fodor, ,'iotmnia
Judith Olson, pianM
Raekham A udisoriun,
onaNo. in Dmjr op . . Prokofiev
Tzigane ........................... Ravel
Serenade melancholique Op. 26 ... Tchaikovsky
Tambourin Chinois................. Kreisler
Cppricis Vais.............Wieniaski
La Ciochette (The Bell)............ Paganini
Preaenu'dl by ira. tlnir.'rairy
Musical Sncj.'ty
pride of Hercules, Fodor tucks his
vili Abeneath hi dchin and begins to
Picture this scene without the circus
paraphernalia and in the posh confines
of Rackham Auditorium, and you have
a fair representaition of Eugene Fodor's
Ann Arbor debut Tuesday evening. For
while some members of the audience
came to hear music, Fodor's perfor-

mance was totally dependent on the
magic arts of spiccato and ricochet
bowing, harmonic double-steps, and -
that inevitable show-stopper - left-
hand pizzicato.
EUGENE FODOR is such a robotic
musician that I find it inexplicable he
could have won the international
Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in
1974. When he isn't tackling lightning-
fast arpeggios, his playing is wholly un-
spectacular and bereft of warmth and
imagination.
During an unplanned three-minute
intermission during which ensued a
search for a missing music stand,
Fodor entertained the audience with
the first movement of Bach's E major
Partita. The, piece is virtually a non-
stop progression of sixteenth notes, and
Fodor seemed to go into it with the at-
titude, "The faster the better." He is of
the school that says playing with
"feeling" should be reerved for those,
slow, schmaltzy passages.
FODOR'S surfacy renditions seemed
inevitable from the opening strains of
vibrat is urelentingl quickand nHes-
vous, lending a flat sameness to every
note. Fodor's performance of the
Prokofiev Sonata No. 2 was terse and
brittle, as if the piece's unromantic
harmoniels ruled out a lush, "romantic"
interpretation. Instead, he utilized
various "expressive" gimmicks, -most
notably proverbial little gypsy slides.
Never, in pieces like Tchaikovsky's

Serenade Melancolique or the Tartini
Sonata, did he attain that warm,
soaring quality one gets from a Stern or
a Perlman.
The program was basically an unin-
teresting arcade of showcase pieces,
the same sort of crowd-pleasers Fodor
generally performs on The Tonight
Show. Even his technique fell down

takes a backseat to musicianship, not
only for the audience but for the per-
former, one is forced into protesting not
merely the quality of any individual
comiposition but the very conception of
the whole performance. As opposed to a
concert in which one number may have
been flubbed but the next could be
brilliant, Fodor was involved in such an
all-out celebration of technique that
giving the most moving performance
possible obviously wasn't on his mind.
A lot of people have seen F'odor on
Johnny Carson, and no one is
questioning his technical accomplish-
ments. But shouldn't we expect
something more - something of a little
more substance - from such a highly
touted performer?' When magicians
begin passing for artists, perhaps we
should rethink our priorities.

Concert
The Major Events Office announ-
ced today that the Stephen Stills
Livingston Taylor concert scheduled
for Hill Auditorium Nov. 4th has
been cancelled. Tickets will be
refunded where they were bought.

Eugene Fodor

Join the

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upon occasion - mostly his intonation
- but by and large his reading of three
Paganini caprices and the same com-
poser's La Clochette (a transcribed
version of the third violin concerto's
Rondo) were duly impressive.
WHY, THEN, am I panning his con-
cert? Well, when technical wizardry

Simple honesty is Dixon's tool

By CAROL WIERZBICKI
Looking like Jack Nicholson, com-
plete with receding hairline, he
coughed once, took his seat, and held
listeners enthralled for about an hour.
TUesday evening was the second
time Stephen Dixon has read in East
Quad's Benzinger Library, and this
1reading proved to be an even bigger
success than last year's. Dixon seemed
Kmore confident in reading his works out
loud, and was met with enthusiastic ap-
plause at the end of each short story or
excerpt.
THE AUJTHOR of Work and No Relief
(already popular books around cam-
pus), Dixon has gone on to publish Too
Late, and Quite Contrary, a collection
of short stories, is due out in June..
Dixon started the evening off with a
delightful story called "Gifts," which
simply relates the tale of a man who
sends increasingly elaborate han-
Sdiworks (sonnets, jewelry, furniture),
to the object of his affections. His sup-
posed sweetheart, in turn, writes per-
fectly charming, but condescending let-
ters:-
How can I ever thank y-ou?
You may' be sure your gift is safe in the
closet
with all the reel.
In the end she rejects him, having "told
'i no one where she was going and leaving
no forwarding address." The story
Sexaggerates, embellishes, comes to a
tall-tale climax, then drops off - in
jessence, parallels the real-life ex-
perience of rejection.
Next, Dixon read an excerpt from his
novel Too Late. In the scene, a man is
looking for his lost girlfriend, gets a
phone call from a stranger who claims
to have seen the girlfriend through his
telescope, and for several pages the
story takes all kinds of ludicrous turns,
as the stranger keeps calling back and
changing his line.
STILL ANOTHER story, in a kind of
take-off on the short piece, "Mac in
Love," has the former lover sticking
around to see what the new "fella"
looks like, getting bit by the woman's
;dog, and consequently hurting the dog.
He packs the dog in his valise and takes
*him to a vet's office, where the dog is
pronounced dead. Finally, he buries the
cur in the suitcase, and ends up being
refused lodging at a hotel because he
has no luggage.
It's this unexpected truthfulness, this
constantly unresolved state. of things,
that makes Dixon's writing stand out,
and makes it enjoyable reading and

listening. His sparse storytelling style
carries complex motivations, attitudes,
and events to swift and smooth ends.
Dixon's sporadic obsessions with detail
contribute a richer texture to the
overall story - as-if it had been woven
tighter in certain spots with thicker
yarn.
In his first books, Work and No
Relief, Dixon, a native New Yorker,
captured the alienation of his city
through the individual dialects of his
characters, as well as the study of daily
routine. The result is two extremely
powerful commentaries on city life in
the '70s.
YE T DIXON for the most part leaves
his opinions out of his works. Rather,
they make a simple, blatant statement:
"This is the way it is." Strangely
enough, this technique lends itself
remarkably well to the conveyance of
emotions and attitudes. Dixon doesn't
parade his opinions - he allows his
readers to form their own. "My stories
were meant to be interpreted in dif-
ferent ways by different people," Dixon
explains. And therein lies their impact.
How Dixon got his start in writing is
an interesting story in itself. "I was an
elevator operator in the News building,
when one day by accident, I got to type
a story, and my brother, who was a
journalist there at the time, told me to
get a job as a journalist."
From there, he went on to become a
radio and TV correspondent in
Washington, D.C., and as a reporter in-
terviewed Kennedy and other White
House officials in the early '60s. Soon
after he became an editor, Dixon sold
his first story for publication, decided
to quit journalism, and took up writing
creatively full time.
WHEN asked if journalism is a good
springboard for creative writing, Dixon
responded, "It's a bad place to start.
There's too much regimentation,
demands, deadlines, pressure." Does
his reporting experience figure largely
in the outcome of his stories? "Not
really;" he notes. "Reporting helped
me a lot with technique, with getting
the right words down,, but there it en-
ds." n
"I'm basically a storyteller," Dixon
says. "I tell it just like it is - with a few
embellishments. The stuff I write
comes right out of my head onto the
page. Many of the stories I wrote really
happened. I'll start telling a friend
aboust something that happened to me
during the day, and he'll say, 'You've
got a short story there.' A story can be
anythig - a dream, life, something you
hear from someone else."

The effect of Dixon's storytelling is a
kind of grim, pessimistic, funny
frustration that tells us, over and over,
,that' life is not like the movies. In a
discussion after the reading, Dixon
began formulating another story: "I'm

walking down the street, see, when this
dog bites me on the leg, and I look
around to see who the owner is, and it's
a transvestite, and (this really hap-
pened!) instead of asking if I'm hurt, he
says I have nice legs. .

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and TR ANSL A TION JOU RNA L
IN T HE H opwood Room & 444 Mason
or mai to 40 Mayard, 2480
Just Leave Name, Address, Phone, Year & School
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From he ceatos ofSHOW
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Thic Liixvisit of Miiz
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Tickets at the P.T.P. Box (
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and through all Hudson'

To CONQUER
~ffice in.
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s Stores

O
7
'

IH rshs
fod ye . . adi yucm
gTeua freest cfe

The Ann Arbor Film Copeaive
presents in AUD. A.
Special Two-Day Engagement
Thursday, Oct.19-7 & 9:15
LAST TANGO IN PARIS
(Bernardo Bertolucci, 1973)
MARL.ON BRANDO appears as a sex-
ually aggressive expatriate who em-
barks on a three-day affair with

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