Wednesday, July 31, 1974
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
.. , _. _ _._ r - .
By CHARLES SMITH
Anyone who stil believes that French
Impressionist and post-Impressionist mu-
sic is the formless (and boring) stuff
"about" fogs and misty pictures that it
is often reputed to be should have heard
Michel Beroff play last Monday night at
It is a relief to find a pianist who ac-
tually thinks about the music he plays,
and can project a piece of music as an
intelligently planned and controlled mu-
sical phenomenon. Yet despite Beroff's
impeccable control and remarkable tech-
nique, he maintained a sense of poise
and relaxation throughout the music, get-
ting some gorgeous sounds out of the
piano, as well as projecting a great deal
of excitement and affection for the music
The program consisted of mucic by
Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen, a reper-
toire Beroff is obviously very much at
home with. There is a strong temptation
to the performer of this music to distort
the musical sense of these pieces with
extra-musical ideas, such as visual or
literary imagery, or personal vagaries.
The crucial challenge to the performer is
to suppress such temptations, and subju-
gate his personality to the demands of
The ideal "virtuouso" is one wh) would
utilize his technique for musical ends,
that is, what he "does" to the music in
performing is motivated solely by a de-
sire to-project something actually in the
music. Beroff is already this sort of per-
The whole first half of the program
consisted of the first book of twelve De-
bussy Preludes. Debussy's music pre-
sents a paradox for the performer: the
best way to project the illusion of vague-
ness is through exact observation of the
smallest details of rhythm and articula-
tion as Debussy has so carefully marked
Beroff has mastered this paradox and
also understands the complexities and
subtleties of the individual pieces. A
simple example of the sort of musical
projection he develops occurred in "Voil-
es", where he gave the few pentatonic
measures of the piece a different tone-
coloring than the rest of the piece, which
is built from a whole-tone scale.
One might, however, quibble with in-
dividual details of interpretation, while
still admiring Beroff's overall control.
There was a rhythmic problem in "Des the first I've heard which n
pas sur la niege", as he did not always vincing case for Messiaen's
observe the rhythm in which the ostinatO the mystical-religious-Orienta
figure occurs. When the cross-rhythms in garbage disappears as super
the other voices necessitated the correct these pieces emerge as realt
rhythm, it was there; other times it was es with beginnings, ends, a
not. logic. Surprisingly enough, l
The Children's Corner Suite by Debus- revealed to be not as bad
sy are harder pieces than the Preludes as many people seem to th
in many ways. "Dr. Gradus ad Parnas- Two of the Preludes for
sum" was absolutely superb - the best the earliest of the Messiaen
I've ever heard it or even imagined it. the most closely tied to Ds
The "Serenade of the Doll" on the other numbers from the Vingsti
hand was somewhat marred by an overly L'enfant-Jesus and one fror
fast tempo. This was perhaps the only logue des oiseaux complete
piece of the evening in which Beroff gram. Of these difficult and
didn't sound completely at ease. pieces, perhaps the Prelude
most interesting, but all
Ravel's Sonatine is another difficult thoroughly enjoyable as play
work to bring off in performance. Beroff of-
managed well throughout, again project- It is excitnig to be given
ing an interesting version of the work, about pieces by a good per
although one might wonder why he min- a really good ear for what he
imalized the important tempo change of a piece. I, for one, will fo
the second movement. Beroff's career with great
The progression of this well-planned and would be interested in
program exposed the Impressionistic anyhting he would care to
roots of Messiaen's music, which ap- continues to demonstratet
peared last (with an encore by Messiaen such musical intelligence, 1
as well). This performance is perhaps one of the best pianists aro
nade a con-
a the Cata-
ed the pro-
s were the
yed by Ber-
e wants from
play. If he
he could be
Johnny Rivers is a classic in the music business. His music
has come full circle, not once but twice.
Back in the summer of 64, we heard a new talent from the
Whiskey A Go-Go in L.A., and his name was Johnny Rivers and
he was playing the old time Chuck Berry Sound and sounding real
After awhile we heard Johnny again, this time singing ballads
like "Tracks of My Tears" and "Poor Side of Town". Still later he
was getting into different areas with artists like Hendrix (actually
Rivers' best period) doing songs like the classic "Summer Rain."
Then, after another long absence he popped up last year, re-
verting back to the old days wearing his boogie-woogie blues.
Now Rivers is back with an album entitled Road (Atlantic SD
7301). Two things about this album caught my eye. First it was
done by Johnny Rivers and despite his ever-changing mood, I like
him. Second, I saw singing background vocals, Linda Ronstadt,
who I think is one of the best female vocalists around.
The production is slick and material is good. Nice renditions
of "Geronimo's Cadillac" and "Six Days on the Road." But most
notable is a Rivers composition "Artists and Poets" dedicated to
and about Jim Croce, Bobby Darin, Gram Parsons, all late and
Uriah Heep can still drive a high-energy rock and roll tune.
And they are out to prove it on their new release Wonderworld
(Warner Bros. 2800), their best effort yet.
The emphasis in their music is on the vocals of David Byron,
who sounds very much like ex-Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillian.
The instruments take a primary back-up to Byron, with the almost
standard beats. But the haunting voice takes off with poetic lyrics,
and make the songs come together. This is good in the character-
istic driving songs like "Suicidal Man" and "Something or Noth-
ing", but is often breathtaking in the exceptionally mellow songs
like "Shadows on the Wind."
The songs seem to center -around the processes of experienc-
ing, sometimes even taking on a preaching tone to urge us to
partake of life with lyrics like "Life has shown us we all have
our love, why don't we use it?" Other times the lyrics take on an
image producing poetic turn, highly visual ,as they do in "Dreams"
a spacey love song.
Uriah Heep seems ready to fill the vacuum created by the
demise of Deep Purple, with their additional touch of mellow
songs that Deep Purple never utilized. This album should give
Heep the recognition that has avoided them.
Terry Melcher is Doris Day's little boy.
Terry Melcher (Reprise MS2185) is a much talked about and
hyped up album.
Those are its good points.
Terry Melcher is a cynical, over-packaged, under-achieved
Melcher, in conjunction with -Bruce Johnston of the Beach
Boys, has put out his first (and hopefully last) solo effort after
years of producing for groups like the Byrds and the Associa-
tion. Many critics have stated that this album isn't for every-
body. I totally agree.
Unfortunately it could have been a good production as Melcher
assembled some of the finer studio musicians in the land (such as
Jm Keltner, Sneaky Pete, Ry Cooder, Mike Deasy, and Clarence
White) and even Mama is around to sing a little backround.
But too much time is spent with trying to put everything, even
Lloyd Price's oldie Stagger Lee, into a country vein. Melcher is no
Buck Owens, Eddy Arnold or even Merle Haggard, but he and
Warner Brothers would make you believe that he is.
With vinyl at a premium, Melcher should leave the pressing
of such precious hot wax to those who make better use of it, and
just be Mama's boy.
"Landscape with Towel"
Bland beds, bedding
By BOB SCHETTER
The paintings of Elizabeth
Hansell, a Detroit artist, are
now on display at the N o r t h
Campus Commons Gallery. In
the "New Realism" tradition,
these paintings of bed and bed-
ding should affect feelings of
heightened sensuality and de-
cadence, but in truth appear
bland to the eye and ludicrous
to the intellect.
New Realism is that tech-
nique by which the artist inten-
sifies the effect of commonplace
subjects, such as a tourist or
an elevator, by making them
bigger than life or by isolating
them for inspection. The Real-
ists use the gamut of artistic
tools and materials, but the use
of bronze, wood and metals is
played down in favor of plastics
and fibers which give a more
life-like effect. Of special note
is the air brush, which has be-
come a mainstay of some Real-
ists, and which gives a photo-
graphic effect to paintings.
Hansell falls between t w o
schools of the New Realists:
those that intersperse artistic
decision with their realism, as
in the painted nudes of Phillip
Pearlstein and the photographic
realists such as Richard Mc-
lean and Alfred Leslie.
She combines heightened real-
ism with her own concepts of
what makes bedding appealing.
But a mishandling of these con-
cepts and compositional matters
cause the paintings to fail.
The most blatant example of
poor compositional judgment is
"Landscape with Towel." It de-
picts a very sensuous and tos-
sled bed - complete with silk
linens. But the lived in luxury
is destroyed when a gaudy tow-
el is placed lengthwise across
the bed. Even if the towel is
meant to ridicule the luxury of
the setting, its painted stiffness
causes a false perspective and
detracts from the picture.
The clarity of the paintings is
further damaged by shadow.
Whereas in the works of Pearl-
stein shadow has its place and
enlivens the painting, in Han-
sell's work it muddies the per-
spective and draws attention to
lines and areas which shsaoldn't
be integral parts of the paint-
In "Single Bed" the edge of
the bed is hard to discern be-
cause a fold of sheeting is sta-
ticized through shadow and tails
to follow the contour of the bed.
Finally, perspective is mis-
handled. There are angles
where there should not be ang-
les, and distortions which
through the perceived plane of
the paintings out of kilter. One
may argue that these distortions
are deliberate, but one must
realize that these paintings are
purportedly realistic and nust
follow "natural" laws of om-
position. Should "Virgin" ook
like an organic blob slithering
atop a sea of sheeting, or a
pillow on a bed?
A saving grace is the play-
fulness of the paintings. The
artist leaves to the imagina-
tion what will, has or is takisg
place on these beds.
The exhibit runs through Aug-
ust 15th and should not spoil
your lunch at the Commons un-
less you look at the prices.