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November 13, 1984 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1984-11-13

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ARTS
Tuesday, November 13, 1984

The Michigan Daily

Page 5

The elegance of Viktoria
Mullova and her violin

*,

B Neil Galanter
A fter having walked out on stage in
an elegant blue evening gown, Viktoria
Mullova began an equally elegant violin
recital.
To start things off for the evening, she
offered a flavorful performance of
Mozart's Sonata in B Flat K378 with
playing that was notably in the ap-
propriate style with all the appropriate
spirit, bubbliness, and verve necessary
for an effective Mozart performance.
Mullova reached all the climax points
in the score with grace and lilting
charm which created a good musical
tension which added to the overall ef-
fect of the piece.
She could have played with a bit
more docility in the middle sostenuto
and cantabile movement. She didn't
abandon her big, sumptous tone for the
more laid-back approach necessary at
this point in the Sonata.
Her pianist, Charles Abramovic had
the right idea, but she did not. Mullova
was right back on target, though, in the
last movement, providing for all the

grace and agility necessary for a lively
rondo movement. Her precise control of
the running notes at the end of the rondo
was most impressive.
Next came the Brahms G Major
Sonata, which Mullova played with a
certain stateliness and gradeur that
befits the piece. The playing was
tasteful and well tempered. Abramovic
reaffirmed his fine artistry not only as
an accompanist but also as a pianist in
this piece. Too often good pianist/ac-
companists are neglected. Abramovic
put in a marvelous performance
throughout the entire program-a
major contributing factor to the suc-
cess of the recital.
Mullova followed intermission with a
fiery performance of Prokofiev's D
Major Sonata. She outlined all the
sharp Russian Prokofiev melodies with
great fervor. She always seemed most
effective in the fast paced sections, and
again her playing in the less fiery areas.
of the piece might have fared better
with a more passive and meeker ap-
proach.
Mullova chose a most resourceful
showpiece to closer her program: La

Campanella from the b minor concerto
of Paganini. There really is not a
wealth of musical depth to the Paganini
Concerti, which is perhaps the reason
why they aren't performed a whole lot.
Mullova, however, certainly made it
enjoyable to say the least.
She created an art gallery of pictures,
one after another with the many dif-
ferent tricks Paganini hid up his sleeve
when he wrote it. Her ease in handling
all the amazingly difficult aspects of
"La Campanella" was unbelievable.
One thing Viktoria Mullova doesn't
have any trouble with is technique. This
was evident in her second encore of the
evening: "A Spanish Dance" by
Sarasate. She fluffed this one off in a
seemingly effortless fasion as well. Her
first encore was a beautiful
arrangement of Gershwin's "It Ain't
Necessarily So" by Jascha Heifetz. She
played this with all heartfelt ex-
pressiveness and it certainly made my
heart thump.
Mullova is a violinist of formidable
quality and, in my estimation, she will
go far. I look forward to hearing her
again.

England's The Cure, here not seen in live concert at the Michigan Theater on Saturday night.
The ost-punk event of the year

By Dennis Harvey
T HE CURE'S Saturday night
set at the Michigan Theatre was un-
doubtedly the social/cultural event of
the year among the area's wavin'
cool set, and ultimately it more than
met the crowd's high expectations
and already-sold adulation.
One of the first and best of British
postpunk bands, the Cure has
always, like Joy Division, Siouxsie
and the Banshees and others
emerging from basically the same
era, had a relentlessly serious, fain-
tly academic approach to pop, art,
and dance music styles, saved from
pretension (sometimes just barely)
by the all-encompassing cloud of
emotional ambiguity. Despite their
ability to write neat, hummable lit-
tle tunes like anybody else on oc-
casion, the Cure manages to cast a
lost shadow of evasive atmospherics
over everything they do-even the
run of pop successes they've had
lately, like "Let's Go to Bed," seem
somehow clouded over by a
bemused detachment.
Such exquisite distancing allows
the audience to be acknowledged in
passing, if at all, and during the far-
thest reaches of their middle art-
gloom period (Pornography), the
Cure seemed perversely determined
to alienate even the staunchest
fans-not to mention their record
label. It's been with astutely
calculated halfsteps, then, that
they've slipped back toward ac-
cessibility with several suprisingly
catchy singles. This year's generally
excellent LP The Top defines the
"new" Cure approach-guarded yet
irresistible artpop in which even the
most delightful songs ("The Cater-
pillar," "Birdmad Girl") leave a
slightly discordant aftertaste of in-
trospection.
The Michigan Theatre set
displayed the Cure in a manner that
was both inevitable and ideal. This is
obviously a band too cool to indulge
in any standard theatricality (like
moving around the stage at all), so
the visual excitement has to happen
to rather than through them. The fog
of ambiguity the Cure creates on

record was, appropriately enough, a
literal cloud of dry-ice fog that
frequently enveloped the stage and
wafted toward the balcony.
' And this show was-without the
least hint of trad blitzbomb Big Rock
Spectacle vulgarity-probably the
most impressive job of lighting I've
ever seen at a concert. Frequently
violent color contrasts between
lighting projected on the players and
on the huge blank screen behind
them gave the impression of
physical action where there really
wasn't any. The master stroke was
projection of looming silhouettes of
the band members and their equip-
ment, which changed in perspective
to superimpose multiple images in a
manner so psyche-out dazzling that
one could frequently forget entirely
about the comparatively inert
humans beneath. The terrific
variety in coloring made it easy to
fail noticing how consistently dark
most of the lighting was-making it
(intentionally, of course) all the
harder to get a halfway decent stare
at the center of attention, lead
singer/guitarist Robert Smith, who
buries himself in the microphone
with nearly as view-frustrating an
intensity as R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe.
The Event status of the evening
was due largely to the Cure's not
having toured the U.S. in several
years, and the set dutifully covered
a lot of ground. The majority of
moodier middle-period material was
scattered throughout the hour-long
official set, with earlier tunes and
poppier stuff dominating later on.
Currently a five-piece outfit, with
alternation between a three
guitar/one keyboard and two
guitar/two keyboard sound, the
Cure came up with a highly im-
pressive if not staggeringly varied
wall of sound. The aural density
filled out the simpler, more melodic
tunes, and lent songs with seemingly
doubtful live promise the necessary
- dirgey-yet-well-defined effect.
Robert Smith's. distinctive voice,
that nearly-but-not-quite annoying
compromise between wail and croon
(generally leaning toward the for-
mer)was consistently strong, and at
times came up with surprisingly

delicate variations on his recorded
approach. If an encore rendition of
"Boys Don't Cry" seemed rather in-
different both vocally and in-
strumentally, there was the com-
pensation of the unusually relaxed,
even jazzily playful vocal perfor-
mance of the even bigger hit "Let's
Go to Bed," whose blantant 'single'
appeal even the band itself has ex-
pressed some distaste for.
More typical during the basic set
was the enveloping forward drive of
Faith's "Primary," the ominously
commanding big beat of the opening
"Shake Dog Shake" from The Top,
and the obsessive power of Seven-
teen seconds' "A Forest." A funky
version of "The Walk" signalled a
gradual turn toward lighter songs,
which solidified during the three en-
cores. All three leaned heavily
toward favorite material from their
U.K. debut Three Imaginary Boys
and the U.S. singles compilation
Boys Don't Cry, climaxing with a
very intense "Killing an Arab."
It would have felt like a bit of a
sellout, though, if the Cure had
finished up with all these radio
faves. Fortunately, the mystique
was restored with a hauntingly
beautiful eight-minute closing
deluge number that no one seemed
to be able to identify. The band and
the evening simply faded with this
last flash of the cape into a haze of
saxophone wails and the inevitable
final belch of dry ice. After a curt
thank-you-very-much, the mood was
destroyed with an oddly appropriate
f.-you-all abruptedness by ob-
noxiously cheerful Disney songs
pumped loud over the P.A. system.
It's not as easy a thing as it might
appear to wrap oneself in a cloak of
evasive mystery and get away with it,
as the Cure did. The audience was
obviously presold, carrying about
the same sort of we're-honored-to-
be-here awe that one felt, for instan-
ce, at last year's Bowie tour dates.
But the unusual amount of encore-
begging hysteria proved that they
Cure earned the reverence they
court. The show may have been less
song-to-song great than a blur of at-
mosphere, but it was a magnetic
blur.

Chilean pianist A rrau and the DSO

By Neil Galan ter
WHAT A phenomenon for a man
that is over 80 years old to be still
playing over 80 concerts and recitals a
year!
The legendary artist and Chilean
pianist Claudio Arrau has been perfor-
ming for more than 70 or so of those 80
years and he has become one of the
most sought-after concert artists in the
world. This fact is certainly understan-
dable as Thursday evening he perfor-
med, what was for the most part, an
controlled and highly moving and sen-
sitie performance of Beethoven's Piano
Concerto No. 4 in G, with the Detroit
Symphony Orchestra under the direc-
tion of guest conductor Hiroshi
Wakasugi.
Due to Arrau's age at times his per-
formance suffered from a lack of the
real big, gradiose sound he played with
in his younger days. HIs performance
never failed though to create highly in-
tellectual and, cerebral musical
thoughts and ideas which resulted in a
deeply emotional performance, and
there was a considerable amount of
youthful freshness and vigor to the
cadenzas in both the first and last
movements.
Arrau has that knack for consistent
smooth phrasing in which the ends of
his phrases are always trimmed as
neatly as a pin or tapered off evenly and
lovingly. This is most complimentary to
the music, especially in a piece like
Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto,
and it provides the listener with the
ability to listen and digest what he has
to say with the utmost ease and
relaxation.
There were some parts in which he
blurred certain passages with the pedal
but otherwise his playing had extraor-
dinary control, such as in the soft
passages of the concerto.
Here his playing was extremely lucid
and clear, which contributed to the
truly masterful performance perfor-
med bynoneofrthe greatest masters of
the piano ever to live. The orchestra

provided good strong support for Arrau
and Wakasugi followed him every step
of the way thus proving himself an ex-
tremely sympathetic accompanist as
well as an excellent conductor.
After intermission the orchestra was
joined by Reri Grist, soprano; Anne
Fournet, narrator; Kathleen Segar,
mezzo-soprano; Kathleen Eberle, mez-
zo soprano; and the Kenneth Jewell
Chorale, for a performance of Claude
Debussy's "Le Martyre de Saint-
Sebastien". This piece is based upon
the test of the mystery play by
Gabrielle D'Annunzio and it is divided
into five acts scored for orchestra with
narrative, chorus and vocal solos.
The orchestra played stunningly with
all the lush, impressionistic dreamy
and exciting qualities typical of
Debussy's music. Wakasugi led a
tightly controlled performance with the
orchestra responding consistently
well. There were a few parts in which
the brass was not always quite
together, but the strings held
everything together skillfully,
especially the violins and the celli. Con-
certmaster Gordon Staples played at
his usual high quality level and

notably so in some of the sections where
the violin plays along with the
narrative.
Fournet's performance of the
narritive was at many points spellbin-
ding. Her clear, elucidating style of
speaking the dramatic prose in French
of D'Annuzio's was a combination of
pure drama and heartwarming ex-
pressiveness. Also playing major and
most impressive roles were Reri Grist,
whose consistent polished singing ad-
ded to the success of the Debussy as
well as Kathleen Segar and Katherine
Eberle who also sang respectfully well
and very musically satisfying in their
respective roles. Segar is a University
School of Music Alumnus, and Eberle is
currently working towards her doc-
torate here in the School of Music,
where she also has a teaching assistan-
tship.
The chorus performed well most of
the time except for some points where
the balance of the many voices was
uneven, creating somewhat of a
murkiness. For the most part however
the chorus did well in enhancing the
overall dramatic effect of the Debussy.

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Delightful lumping-together of cuts
supposedly recorded before even R. &
the L.'s official debut Songs for Swinging
Larvae, and even closer to Residents
cloniness, with rampant Tweedley-dee
vocals and assorted scariness. The
Ralph label has always specialized in a
sort of gurgling-underwater semi-
inexplicable experimentation that
could lead equally to viewer con-
vulsions, revelations, or smug indif-
ference.
Allegedly laid to rest on tape in 1979
(questionable if only because the

unknown I.D.'s of both Reisdents and
Renaldo makes any "facts"
suspicious), Struve and Sneff is post-
acid-age music for the well
prepared;others may have a wee fright.
There are a few hits here for the
already-converted - "Kimbolton
Gnome Man" can be recalled from the
"Songs for Swining Larvae" short,
possibly the best 'music video' (albeit
shot on film) ever made. And there are
some lovingly covered oldies for you
trads. Julie Andrews gets a workout on
the extensive revamps of The Sound of

Music's "16 Going on 17" and, with
some inspired new lyrics, "My
Favorite Things." The lyrics of "The
Meanings of W.E.I.R.D." define the
general level of absurdity: "Walk
energetically in rubber
dungarees/Whisper English intone
religious -Dutch/Wigwam especially is

rusty dusty/These are some meanings
of W.E.I.R.D."
Extremely funny until they get too
scary (but don't let them), Renaldo and
the Loaf are-to put it in terms far sim-
pler than they deserve-a sort of purely
musical Monty Python troupe.
-Dennis Harvey

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