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July 22, 1978 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-07-22

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Page 4-Satorday, July 22, 1978-The Michigan Daily

DSO beats humidity and Ravel

The directors of the Detroit Sym-
phony Orchestra have made a list of
mistakes over the past years which
would have crippled any lesser group.
To err is human, and they are very
DetroitSymphony Orchestra
Sinten Ehrling, cnductor
Eugene Istomen, Pianist
Euranthe Overture ......................Weber
C minor .........................Beethoven
Death and Transfiguration ............. Strauss
La valse.................................Ravel
Prntd hY he Meadow
human. One stupid thing they did was
let Maestro Sixten Ehrling go from his
duties as music director a few years
back. Hiring Aldo No-Talent Ceccato
nearly wrecked the whole works.

Ehrling was back Thursday night at
Meadow Brook, the festival he helped
found, with three stunning performan-
ces and one which wasn't so great.
THE WEBER Euranthe Overture
was well-played, though it is essentially
an empty work, devoid of even the
tunefulness possessed by its spiritual
peers (works like the Thomas Mignon
Overture or Harold's Zampa Over-
ture). It is filled with orchestral swoops
and great bombastic Germanic
Romantic phrases, all hearkening back
to one rather simple-minded motif. But
Eugene Istomin was the soloist in the
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3, and
this was where Ehrling really showed
his talents. This work is a cross bet-
ween periods for Beethoven. One can
still smell Classical tendencies within
the Romantic drama of the first

movement. That is, the structure is
classical; the mood is romantic.
which was surprising, because the
humidity was fierce, and the strings
were clearly suffering somewhat
through no fault of their own. Water in
the air is absorbed into the wooden por-
tions of the instruments, and the
proportions are changed, resulting in a
heavier, more leaden resonance.
Pianos are subject to this as well,
particularly in the soundboard. That
Istomin's playing was as crisp as it was
is a tribute totwo things - first, the
great precision for which he is known,
the perfect sense of timing, and second,
the fact that the piano must have been
tuned about two minutes before Istomin
played it.
UNFORTUNATELY, some of the
subtlety built into the music was
thereby lost with the great technical
difficulties. Some of the slight
gradations of tone color and dynamic
were muffled under these circumstan-
ces. But what was not lost was
Ehrling's brilliant sense of timing, his
unerring feel for the when of the music.
With Beethoven, this can be of
overriding importance.
In the second half of the program,
Ehrling presented something of a
lackluster Death and Transfiguration.

Richard Strauss' tone poem is a curious
mixture of serious pomposity and self-
mockery. Ehrling captured the
mockery nicely in his use of ac-
celerated tempi. But in the grander
passages he failed to realize Strauss'
own ambivalence to the work. He sin-
cerely meant both of his attitudes, and
Ehrling couldn't capture the solemnity
inherent. Particularly, the major five-
note motif C-D-E-E(octave)-D, which
ends on a leading tone, and implies the
"transfiguration" of the title.
Ravel's La Valse is a truly boring
work, a work of such stunning self-
importance that the grandiosity of the
Strauss pales in comparison. It is dif-
ficult to enjoy music when you know
that the composer frequently laid down
the pen during the composition and
remarked (to a friend, or possibly into a
mirror) "gad, how clever!" and "that
little dissonance ought to just slay 'em,
by gum!" (or more appropriately,
"sacre bleu!"). It is a light work,
lightly done, and empty (as is the
Weber) but insidious (unlike the
But it is here that Ehrling is in his
element, with the French composers of
that period: Ravel, Debussy, and the
later ones as well: Milhaud, Auric, etc.
The music was well-performed, though
perhaps irritating.
Ehrling should never, never, NEVER
have been fired.
Summer Arts
A rts Editor
STAFF WRITERS: Michael Baadke, Karen
Bornstein, Peter Manis, Stephen Pickover,
Christopher Potter, Eric Smith, R. J. Smith,

Sgt. Burns

AP Photo

George Burns, the grand old geezer of American comedy, arrives with Lisa
Miller at New York's Radio City Music Hall Thursday for the world premeire of
the rock musiVa;4UP ' Sgt: Lep''s Daey Hearts Chulbaid

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