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November 08, 1977 - Image 6

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-11-08

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I

Page 6-Tuesday, Novgmber 8, 1977--The Michigon Doily

VU,

ensemble

finally excels

By JEFFREY SELBST
It has been a long time since last I.
heard the Wind Ensemble perform.
Two years ago, they were a struggling
group of incredibly bad musicians led
by a conductor who didn't seem at all
sure how to make these amateurs play
like professionals. But good news:
somewhere along the way, he found the
winning formula.
The program, of course, is inherently
a winner. It is impossible to think that
anyone could resist what Lotte Lenya,
Kurt Weill's widow, has called his "poi-
soned harmonies." And this - a whole
concert of Kurt Weill's Berlin theater
music! The justly famous Threepenny
Opera music, and the much-too-seldom-
performed Mahagonny.
And it is ideal, too, for this particular
group. They performed the suite,
arranged by Weill for chamber wind
groups, entitled Kleinedreigroschen-
musik. The suite ignores some of the
more famous numbers from the show
such as "Seerauber Jenny" and the
"Barbara Song" and concentrates en-
tirely on those which would adapt best
for wind ensemble (with brass); it is a
work of art in its own right; existing as
somewhat more than a medley such as
Rodgers and Hammerstein might have
put together out of their execreable out-
pourings.

At best, Kurt Weill's music should
have a rotten and seductive feel. There
is saxophone and trombone, and flute
used to just terrific effect in the
Threepenny piece. Reynolds put his
group through correct paces - I heard
no notes mis-accented, nor unclean at-
tacks. This last is quite important, to
Weill. The "Kanonen-Song," perhaps
the one with the most character, was
taken with regard to its sharp tempo,
and a 'precise phrasing. This was also
the case in the famous "Moritat"
(Mack the Knife), which is interspersed
in this piece with strains of the "Useless
Song" (sung by Jonathan Peachum in
the Opera). These pieces are themati-
cally related; to point this up, Weill jux-
taposes them at the end. Needless to
say, this takes delicacy and sensitivity.
The ensemble came through. Right to
the end!
The concert proceeded from the ac-
cessible to the bizarre. Kurt Weill's
opera, Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Ma-
hagonny (1928; premiered in Leipzig
starring Lotte Lenya) with libretto by
Bertolt Brecht, was taken from five
poems by Brecht written in the early
20s. As a practice exercise, the collab-
orators put together a Songspiel (sort of
a cross between secular cantata and
concert opera) which included (at
least) three songs that found their way
into the full-length version, and some

material that never quite made it.
The three are well-known: the "Ala-
bama Song" (which has been sung by a
myriad of artists, including the likes of
Bette Midler, and the Doors), the
"Benares-Song," whose themes echo
the main motifs of the opera, and the
song that acts as the opera's statement:
University Wind Ensemble
Rack ham A uditorium
Nov. 5, 1977
"Kurt Weill Night"
Weill...... Little Threepenny (Kleinedreigroschen)
Music
Weill ....................Mahagonny-Songspiel
Soloists: Leslie Guinn, Leonard Johnson, John Mc-
Collum, Elizabeth Mosher, Willis Patterson, Rose-
mary Russell.
H. Robert Reynolds, conductor
"Aber dieses ganze Mahagonny,"
with lyrics:
We create this state of Mahagonny
Because the world is righteous
And unharmonious, and so
unpeaceful
That there is no end
that man can depend upon.
Unlike the opera, the Songspiel ends
this way, with the addendum:
But Mahagonny does not exist.
For Mahagonny never occurred.
For Mahagonny is only a
made-up word.
The Wind Ensemble, and the six solo-
ists, professors at the Music School
(Leslie Guinn, Leonard Johnson, John
McCollum, Elizabeth Mosher, Willis
Patterson, Rosemary Russell) ren-
dered the work with beauty and
awesome majesty. The singing was all
of the highest quality (except for one
slight crack on a high note by the
soprano); the singing of the group, in
"Wer in Mahagonny blieb," was of ex-
ceptional precision and unity. I was

astrounded.
T'he only complaint I had was with the
"Alabama Song;" the alto spoke her
lines with a kind of petulance, and
Reynolds led the piece at a terribly
slow pace. Perhaps he was trying for a
more "serious" sound; what he
achieved was tedium in a piece that de-
pends on the rhythmic lyricism of the
second part ("Oh, moon of Alabama
etc.") for its character and interest.
The balance and control of the
group's sound as a whole were very
fine. I walked over to another part of
the auditorium for the second half of the
program, to see if I wasn't just sitting in
an acoustically select spot. But it was
the same on the other side.

r s
liJln

A fine show.
Blank Generation a void disc

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By MIKE TAYLOR
IT'IS RE CORDS like Richard Hell and
Voidoid's Blank Generation (Sire
SR 6037) that give punk rock a bad
name. The music is harsh, cluttered,
and noisy. It hardly seems the kind of
stuff you'd want to play for its musical
esthetics. The Voidoids sound limp in-
deed, but Richard Gotterher and Hell's
murky production may be partly
responsible for this problem. Music
that should be tough sounds like it's
been run over by a steam roller.
Hell's lyrics are a slight im-
provement. Angry, defiant construc-
tions, they nevertheless fall short of the
standards Talking Heads, Patti Smith,
and Television have set for New Wave
writing. However, what merits the
words possess get lost in Hell's erratic
singing style. He seems to have no
vocal range at all; the words get spit
out in the same colorless tone. Like the
music, it just doesn't seem worth
listening to.
It's not surprising that some of the
new bands rolling in on the New Wave
There are four general categories of
musical instruments: aerophones, or
wind instruments, membranophones,
also known as "skin-sounders" or
drums; chordophones, or string-
sounders; and electrophones, or in-
struments that use an electric current
to produce, modify or amplify sound.
Richard Rodgers, the prolific com-
poser of stage musicals, is credited
with ovsra thousand songs. Some of his
compositions are "Some Enchanted
Eveniing/'."The Surrey withth ringe
on Top,"©"Hello YoungLovers" and
"Oklahoma!"
EDITORIAL AND PUBLICATION SERVICE
Editing Writing
Translating " Graphics
Experienced Editors
in All Fields
Pick-up and Delivery
Phone: 668-8899
ONEWS FROM THE
MAJOR EVENTS OFFICE
Back in January, 1975, we presented a
country-pop singer in Hill Auditorium. She
carried a number-one single entitled "You're
No Good." Even then, she sold out. This
Friday night marks the exciting return of
Linda Ronstadt for one night only at Crisler
Arena. What makes it even more exciting
is the fact that her new album, "Simple
Dreams," has rocketted to the top of the
charts. In on unprecedented'move, her
record company has released two singles
from the album, "It's So Easy" and "Blue
Bayou." They both shot into the top-forty.
AlthoughRonstadt's considered the
reigning queen of rock, there were years
when she was the only female rocker.
Quite a change, now, because four of the
top-ten spots on the charts are held by
female singers. The music business has come
a long way, and Linda is justifiably proud.
In her recent "homecoming" concerts in
Los Angeles, she sold-out twelve straight
nights at the Universal Amphitheatre. She

is hot. Help welcome her back to Ann
Arbor this Friday evening.
Austin, Texas. sends us news that Billy
Joel knocked a full-house right out of
their seats at the Paramount Theatre a few
weeks ago. The people down there tell us
he combined waiting saxophones and rollick-
ing pianos in some good-time rock and
roll. His cross-country tour will pull into
Hill Auditorium the night of Friday, Novem-
ber 18.

Revolution in Bridges

aren't very good, but Richard Hell is no
newcomer. Years ago, he founded
Television with Tom Verlaine, and
recently helped organize the Hear-
tbreakers, a come-back attempt by
some of the old New York Dolls. Last
year, he released an extraordinary
single. Featuring the then unnamed
Voidoids, it contained three songs that
combined terrific guitar work, haun-
ting vocals, provocative lyrics, and
crisp production.
/
A year later, it's hard to believe that
this new album is ley the same Richard
Hell. Two of the earlier songs, "Blank
Generation" and "Another World",
made it to the. new record, but sad to
say, they're newly recorded versions,
are vastly inferior to the originals.
They share the general defects of the
album. The guitar work is standard, the
vocals rushed and reckless, and the
overall sound blurred. In short, the
wonderful ambiance these songs once
possessed is gone.
What's worse is that as poorly per-
formed as they are, "Blank
Generation" and "Another World" are
clearly the best songs on the album.
The rest of the tunes lack the spark of
originality that made those two num-
bers such delights originally. For-
tunately, Hell kept the lyrics of "Blank
Genera tion" intact.
I was sayin let me outta here before
I was
ever born. It's such a gamble when
you get a face.
It's fascinatin to observe what the
mirror does
but when I dinesit's for the wall that
I set a place.
A couple of other tracks are some-
what successful. For some strange
reason, Hell and the Voidoids chose to

perform the old Creedence Clear-
water Revival hit, "Walking on the
Water." It comes off fairly well, since
as a song it's on more solid ground than
most of the material. on "Blank
Generation' and Hell's bizarre ap-
proach gives it new life.
"The Plan"is an odd tune concerning
the advantages of having a daughter so
as to mold her into the perfect lover.
Hell's low-key music works well with
the unusual words.
Her education's begun-I'm intent
on success.
Her breathtaking beauty it brings out
my best.
I once knew true love-she won't
know another.
Life is renewed, my little girl is my
lover.
Lest you begin to think I actually like
this album, the rest of the tunes are
hideous. "Love Comes in Spurts" has a
cute title, but little else to recommend
it. "Liar's Beware" is as tonal as they
come, and "New Pleasure" isn't much
better-it sounds like it's being sung by
a zombie. "Betrayal Takes Two", 'an
"extended number"at 3 minutes and 33
seconds, is an unadventurous, rambling
song. "Down At The Rock And Roll
Club" tries to be a rock song, but the in-
distinctive singing and minimal
arrangement make it fall flat.
It seems like such a waste. The lyrics
are not bad; with more work they could
be quite good. The music, though, ap-
pears hopeless, at least until Hell and
crew decidse on a more clearly defined,
sound. A touch of melody wouldn't be a
bad -ie ihr There's ajake nt'.
here, but we may haive to await" until~
time brings it. out,,.-With lu ,Del :il)f.
deliver the goods next time.

Lazar Berman
3 6Claudio Abbado
RPachmaninoff:
Piano Concerto No.3
London Symphon. Orchestra
:-r

3.99,
3eturn to the
Greatest Hits
of 1720"
vith Handel's
heme from
arry Lyndon,"
Aouret's theme

Special Low Price

( R A T -I #'IS 1 0 I \i s O
11 IIINONI: \\v.EI
i1 \N)I .:
I tIulI ,uuI (4 .m o , ' 1 (11
Richard Kapp
(() \11 tL uIn

°. ,
,s..
'

By BRUCE YOUNG
U NLIKE MOST releases from the
good ole revolutionaries of the
sixties, Bridges, the new album by
Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson,
still exhibits the intelligenge and
fervor of that era. Their radicalism is
still fresh, and not a nostalgic tour
through the last decade on sailboats
al la Crosby, Stills and Nash. So run
while you can, filthy racists.- their
message has power; their message
speaks to millions; their message,
like the revolution, will not be
televised.
Bridges is about traveling. During
the years of "taking our music to the
streets . .." Scott - Heron says,
.. . music has been our common de-
nominator . . . but the ideas and
spirit behind the music has been the

R
tt
~B

"Berman gives us romantic pianism on
the grandest possible scale . ... With it,
he becomes a part of recording history."

from "Masterpiece
Albinoni. and

Theatre," the best of Bach, Corelli,
many more.

_-

TITO GOBBI,
GIANNI SCHICCHI
ILLANA COTPUBAS
PLACIDO DOMINGO
LOF4IN MAAZEL
,(

aI

f

BERLIOZ
HAROLD InyITALY
(W I 1 I- I"11:1 I Of \~I
li1\( tII \hE IIM V

Andre ko.telinet:
I i K ,m m 01 hc im - t .n
N rt .\ I tloItwl.- i a .I

4

these
three
shown'
sale
priced
at 4.99

adhesive and inspiration for contin-
ued attempts to communicate."
Their exuberant rhythms and Scott-
Heron's beautiful voice certainly do-
provide a superlative for their tid-
ings. But the message itself domin-
ates the record.
"When not singing of social injustice
(Tuskegee #626" is about syphilis ex-
periments in Alabama which crip-
pled and killed blacks) or environ-
mental plunder ("We almost Lost
Detroit" describes a near nuclear
disaster), they turn to the people they
meet on the road. "Racetrack in
France," for example, is a totally
positive vibration. If the revolution
happens in our lifetime,,we can count
on Scott-Heron and Jackson for more
such songs.
Their most potent music, though, is
contained in the revolutionary songs
The lyrics, mostly written by Scott-
Heron, give the listener a shock, but
often leave him/her with a feeling of
hope. "Delta Man" preaches that
"revolution ... ain't nothin' but
change, and change is bound to
come." But the fact that revolution is
where Gil Scott-Heron is coming
from doesn't mute-his positive feel-
ings about people. Not too many of
the sixties radicals are still able to
avoid pessimism or even blatant
commercialism.
The most stunning song, "Vildgolia
(Deaf, Dumb, and Blind)" won't
exactly help one sleep.
... ALL I want from you is your
mind and soul C'mon and cooperate
with me until you get too old to
retaliate against the fact thatI took
your mind and left you and your
people far behind. Life ain't nothin'
but a sham! Can you tell me who I
am? Dressed in red, white, and blue
your Uncle Sam!
Scott-Heron makes you aware of
your blindness, and that is not
comforting.
For those of you who hate politics
and love good music, there is plenty
of the latter here. The band, particu-
larly keyboard Dlaver Jackson and

I.

7

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alburms are now on sale

the complete.,
7Odyssey select ion
of budget classics
specially priced at
2.99

SALE PRICES GOOD THRU
SATURDAY, NOV. 19th
AVAILABLE AT:

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