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March 26, 1974 - Image 5

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1974-03-26

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Tuesday, March 26, 1974

Music of Gay 90's
featured in benefit

Dutch master Brueggen displays
{} enchantingL' form on recorder

A venture into a church to at-
tend a benefit concert for the or-
gan fund is usually not one of
my favorite pastimes.
But last Sunday evening when
William Bolcom and Joan Morris
performed songs of the Gay Nine-
ties and the Naughtie Aughties
for the First Unitarian Church's
organ fund, I couldn't have been
more at ease.
With Morris dressed in pearls,
daring neckline and a red boa,
the team approached these songs
with almost deadpan serious-,
ness, achieving one salient ef-
fect: the presentation of these
songs as valid and important
links inthe evolution of Ameri-
can popular music.
Bolcom, who is a professor of
music composition in the school
of Music, couldn't have been
more qualified for the task.
He recently cut a disc for
Nonesuch Records titled Piano
Music by George Gershwin (H-
71284) that has sold well and
shown Bolcom to be a virtuoso
pianist with fine interpretive
ideas in this genre.
Morris stole the show with her
appropriate facial gestures and
one - hundred - percent genteel
voice, ornamented with just the
slightest bit of light vibrato.
One has to admire her control
to perform lyrics such as these
without breaking down in catar-
acts of laughter:
When I returned dear,
There stood a man
Kissing my sweetheart
As only lovers can .. .
The songs deal with a thous-
and varieties of several pedes-
trian themes: a man losing his
wife or lover, a la Meet me in
St. Louis, instructive moral les-
sons concerning the unfaithful
spouse as in Monroe Rosenfeld's
Those Wedding Bells Shall Not
Ring Out.
Songs that elevate women to

the level of goddesses are also
The attitudes of the times sur-
face in the lines of these tunes:
"Her beauty was sold for an old
man's gold" and "She's only a
bird in a gilded cage" are two
textbook examples of this.
Current ideas about love, de-
sertion, wealth were positively
reinforced in songs such as these.
As Bolcom pointed out in his
comments to the audience, these
"hits" launched American popu-
lar music as big business-stars
would carry these songs in their
repertorie and publishers would
print misleading titles to link
songs to performers. This yield-
ed profits from the sale of sheet
Musical theatre and the music
business in general received a
boost, and America was propell-
ed into an era where people be-
gan to identify with popular
songs to an astonishing degree.
Some of these songs are pithy
and trite. Yet we forget how
damn important the topics of
these songs were to people.
Future times will certainly
wonder about our songs too: I
Wanna Hold Your Hand is poten-
tially as absurd as Daisy, Daisy,
give me your answer Do.
Bolcom also performs several
rags that reflected certain atti-
tudes in titles such as The Ef-
ficiency Rag and The Modesty
Rag-A Classic. His piano playing
was alternately truffle light and
pigfoot heavy and always in tune
with the needs of the music.
Current rumors indicate that a
record of Nineties' songs might
come to pass, partially as a re-
sult of this concert.
I for'one would be pleased at
the production of such a record.
It would plug up a gaping hole in
the discography of pop music.
Kudos are in order for the
First Unitarian Church, Morris
and Bolcom. A splendid time was
had by one and all.

Baroque fans gathered once
again Sunday night for another
exquisite performance at the Uni-
versity Reformed Church by
Ann Arbor's very own virtuoso
ensemble, Ars Musica.
Joining Ars Musica for this
concert was Frans Brueggen, the
famous Dutch master of Bar-
oque flute and recorder. Brueg-
gen, who is currently teaching at
the Royal Conservatory at The
Hague, is in the midst of a tour
of the United States.
aThe program began with the
William Lawes Sonata No. 1 in G.
minor. Exemplifying early Bar-
4 ' oque style, the piece featured
repetitious harmony between the
It was my impression that this
opening selection was played a
bit hesitantly and the overall ef-
feet was not as brilliant as is
usually to be expected from Ars
Following another early Bar-
Daily Photo by KEN FINK oque piece by Turini was Nau-
dot's Concerto in G major.
Frans Bru~en gen It was in this selection that the

With their production of Tchai-
kowsky's Eugene Onegin last
weekend the Music School has
proven once again that among
the many things they do so very
well, their operas rank near the
Sunday night, a near sell-out
crowd was treated to a polished
performance by a talented and
spirited cast. To say the evening
was enchanting sounds some-
what trite, but, honestly, that's
exactly what it was.
Onegin is not among the more

Multi-media extravaganza set
for school of music concert

William Albright's Beulahland
Rag, a multi-media extravagan-
za, will be the highlighted work
on a concert to be held Wednes-
day at 8:00 pm at the School of
Music Recital Hall.
Albright's work, presented as
part of a recital by pianist Sever
Tipei, involves a jazz quartet, a
group of performers improvis-
ing at the composer's suggestion,
actor, tape, and a Mickey Mouse
They all cooperate to create a
complex musical and dramatic
situation reminiscent of the psy-
chedelic sixties. The narrator,
played by Al Phillips, complains
about the excesses of 19th cen-
tury music - the text is, in fact,
made up of newspaper criticisms

of such composers as Beethoven
and Wagner.
Mr. Albright teaches composi-
tion at the School of Music.
Other works on the program
include Honeyreves by the late
Italian conductor Bruno Mader-
na, a piece for flute and piano
using new and refined instru-
mental effects, and Marvelous
Aphorisms by Gavin Bryars, a
text piece.
This latter work only suggests
a musical or dramatic situation
and allows great freedomp to in-
vent the actual result. The rea-
lization of Marvelous Aphorisms
will probably involve both the
audience and the performers.
Also on the program will be
John Cage's Wonderful Widow

of Eighteen Springs, composed
in 1942. The text is from Finne-
gan's Wake by James Joyce.
The pianist uses different parts
of the*piano lid to produce per-
cussive effects; the voice part
consists of only three notes.
A high-point of the program
will be the premiere of Sever
Tipei's composition Les Liaisons
Dangereuses, a piece for five
amateurs composed with the as-
sistance of a University com-
The work is based on five short
excerpts from well-known pieces
of traditional music (Machaut to
Sever Tipei is currently work-
ing on his doctorate in composi-
tion at the University. A native
of Romania, he escaped with his
family to this country two years
His music has been performed
widely in Europe, and he is cur-
rently pursuing research in the
area of computer music.

widely known or frequently per-
formed operas. In fact, my aging
edition of the RCA Victor book of
operas doesn't even mention it
among the 30 or 40 it lists.
But really, it's a very enter-
taining show with (as you would
expect from Tchaikowsky) a
beautiful score and your basic
romantic opera plot.
The story concerns a young
man from Moscow (Onegin) who
travels with his friend Lenski, a
poet, to visit the family of Len-
ski's fiancee Olga.
During their visit, Tatyana -
Alga's younger sister, a hopeless
romantic - falls madly in love
with Onegin and commits the in-
des'7retion of writing him a
gushy love letter.
Having no desire to get involv-
ed with this love-sick country
bumpkin, Onegin rejects her af-
fections. In her garden, the
pompous and self-centered voung
mn explains to the heart-broken
Thtyana that he - a sophisticat-
ed man of the world--cannot be
tied down to a woman and chides
her for the frankness of her let-
Later - at the urging of Len-
ski - Onegin attends a ball on
the occasion of Tatyana's birth-
day. While dancing with her, he
overhears whisnered rumors and
sneculations about the nature of
his relationship with her.
Chagrined and feeling his
pride and reputation affronted,
Onegin rashly decides to get
back at Lenski for making him
attend the ball by flirting with
He succeeds all too well. Len-
ski is a highly sensitive and pas-
sionate young man.
Jealous and embarrassed, he
explodes, confronting his friend
in front of the horrified guests
and challenging him to a duel.
And, following the 19th century
gentleman's code of honor, One-

gin, of course, must accept.
In a duel at dawn outside the
city, Onegin kills Lenski and
flees the city in disgrace.
In the last act, he returns after
years of lonely wandering to the
court of his cousin, Prince Gre-
min. He barely recognizes the
charming and poised young wo-
man the prince has taken as his
twife. She is Tatyana.
Onegin is instantly infatuated.
He seeks Tatyana out and de-
clares his love. In the sad and
touching final scene, she admits
she still loves him.
"Once we could have been so
happy . . . Oh, God, so happy,"
they sing. "Follow me to joy and
bliss," he entreats. But she can-
not. "What is past," she sings,
cannot return.
Gripped with anguish and des-
pair, Onegin cries out, "Repuls-
ed! Condemned, to meet a lone-
ly end," covers his face and
rushes off stage as the curtain
Julia Lee Conwell as Tatyana
thrilled the audience with her
sweet, romantic opera voice.
In the second scene of the first
act where . she had the stage
alone as she composed her love
letter to Onegin she had a real
opportunity to demonstrate the
beautiful, lilting qualities of her
voice. The audience was wowed.
Ken Hicks came very close to
stealing the show with his rendi-
tion of the poet Lenski. In addi-
tion to having a fine voice, Hicks
is a marvelously animated actor.
In the ballroom and duel
scenes of the second act, Hicks
was dynamic and the theater-
goers showed their appreciation
with loud and prolonged ap-
- 214 s.u niesuy

audience first heard the true vir-
tuosity of Frans Brueggen. His
thoroughly enchanting perform-
ance highlighted all three move-
ments of this late Baroque piece.
Furthermore, his easy, melli-
fluous execution of the difficult
passage seemed to encourage the
rest of the group and thus im-
proved the whole quality of the
The last movement of this
piece was especially beautiful
and it ended the first half of the
concert in a lively tempo.
Following the intermission was
Georg Muffat's Passacaglia. Fea-
tured in this work for strings
were some rather complex pat-
terns of variation on one basic
Although the piece may have
seemed unorganized, it was nev-
ertheless a particularly good
performance, especially by the
Comfortably inserted in the
program was the familiar Suite
No. 3 by J. S. Bach, whose birth-
day passed just last week.
Michael Jordon used his su-
perb voice voice effectively in
his part as Onegin. And Z. Ed-
mund Tolliver and Mary Rubel
did very well in their somewhat
smaller roles as Gremin and
Olga respectively.
The scenery was among the
best I've ever seen in Mendels-
sohn. Rather that stretch limited
resources in an attempt to cre-
ate elaborate sets (an attempt
which usually comes off as clos-
er to tacky than elegant), just a
few simple pieces were employ-
ed in combination with excellent
and subtle lighting effects to
create scenes which did much to
heighten the romantic effect of
the over-all production.
And, I would be remiss if I
failed to say a word abopt the
folks in the pit. Bravo! The or-
chestra, under the baton of Jo-
sef Blatt, put on a polished-
spirited but never overstated-
I realize I have a special pre-
judice in favor of the horns hav-
ing once been a horn player, but
they were magnificent, and the
Tchaikowsky score gave them
ample opportunity to display
their considerable talent and
lovely tone.

Mon.-Thurs., 7:15 &
Fri.-Sun., 6:45, 8:30,


Displaying beautiful resonance
in the upper strings, this old
favorite was masterfully played.
Brueggen joined the group once
again for Couperin's Nightingale
in Love. In introducing this
piece, Brueggen explained the
substitution of the flute for the
solo harpsichord and the irony
of this substitution as this partic-
ular flute is quite low in key as
contrasted with a "soprano"
Brueggen then proceeded, in
his rather unorthodox style, to
thoroughly enchant the audience
with his performance of this
piece with it's basic theme and

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The final selection, Vivaldi's
Concerto in F major, featured
muted strings and, once again,
Brueggen on recorder. This piece
consisted of three movements of
contrasting templo.
Once again, Brueggen led the
ensemble on recorder, display-
ing excellent versatility first in
the slow deliberate tempo of the
second movement, next in the
extreme liveliness of the third.
In compliance with the audi-
ence, the ensemble played the
third movement once more, pro-
viding a fitting end to a thor-
oughly satisfying evening.




_t -... . .




April 1974
MARCH 25-31


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