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.Ohlsson's performance honors Chopin
Pianist's program pays homage to the composer's great following
By BRIAN WISE
One of the keys to Frederic
Chopin's enduring popularity among
audiences lies in first-hand experi-
ence. Everyone that took piano les-
sons at some point in their lives has
Wat down with the neighborhood pi-
January 13, 1995
Auditorium turned out to hear over
two-and-a-half hours of it Friday
night, as performed by Garrick
Ohlsson is currently recording
all of Chopin's solo piano works as
a result of a long-held interest in the
composer. To complement this
project, he is performing the entire
cycle in six recitals over two sea-
sons at locations in Ann Arbor and
New York. His first installment pro-
vided a varied but coherent portrait
of Chopin, and with the above-men-
tioned interpretive elements.
The Rondo in C minor, Opus 1
was a suitable beginning to the se-
ries as it introduced the wide musi-
cal palate of the composer at age 15.
This is the work of a young genius,
still grasping concepts of form, but
clearly understanding the many pos-
sibilities of the piano. Ohlsson pro-
vided it with logic and balance,
downplaying its sometimes abrupt
shifts of mood.
Ohlsson's abilities as a Chopin
interpreter are first-rate because he
avoids many of the traps of over-
embellishment and rubato that tend
to distort the underlying structure
of the music. On the Bolero in C
Major, Op. 19, the insistence of the
Spanish rhythm was softened with
skillful pedal work and contoured
phrasing of the exotic melody.
The Twelve Etudes were some
of the most technically challenging
works of the evening, from the per-
petual motion arpeggios of Number
One, to the grand and introspective
Number Three, to the rapid and de-
liberate Toccata in Number Seven.
Ohlsson approached these with ex-
traordinary agility and a feather-
like touch, yet they never sounded
like mere technical etudes, devoid
Particularly characteristic were
the Two Nocturnes, Op. 27. Their
lyrical nature was enhanced by
Ohlsson's clear sense of dynamic
contrast and fluency of phrasing.
By no means cheerful works, the
nocturnes were never dull either by
virtue of his sensitive interpreta-
While Ohlsson could occasion-
ally execute powerful depths of
sound from his Bosendorfer, as in
the broad octaves of the Fantasy in
F minor, Op. 49, he used his most
forceful tone sparingly. Often the
finest moments of the recital, in
fact, were the silences - dramatic
pauses that added impetus and mys-
tery to the course of musical events.
The Scherzo No. 3 in C-sharp
Minor, Op. 39 concluded the pro-
gram, but not the performance. Four
encores followed, including two post-
humously published waltzes and
pieces by a precursor and a student of
Chopin's music, respectively Mozart
and Scriabin. Ohlsson's tasteful play-
ing and skilled programming indicate
that there are more good things to
come next time around.
no teacher and worked through one
of the composer's more technically
accessible waltzes or mazurkas.
While amateurism can foster an
appreciation for his music, to hear it
interpreted with all of the right in-
gredients -technique, expressivity,
taste, elegance, drama - is an ex-
ceptional occasion. It was therefore
appropriate that a packed Rackham
Downset cranks out a rock'em sock'em concert
By KIRK MILLER
I understand there's a code of punk
ethics to see who is more "hard-core",
January 13, 1995
Falcon Club, Hamtramck
out someone needs to strike the manda-
tory overdose of dedications and band
announcements between songs from
the Punk Rock 101 textbook.
A case in point was New York
hard-core / rap / metal sextet Dog Eat
Dog, who played a decent second set
last Friday at the basement-with-a-
bar Falcon Club in Hamtramck. After
one of their funky horn-driven hard-
core songs ended, they would an-
nounce, "Thanks, Detroit. Thanks for
coming out. Thanks to my boys in
Downset, Cold As Life and Madball,
they'll be coming out in a minute.
We're Dog Eat Dog from New York.
Peace. This is our third to last song."
After their next funky chant-a-long
Beastie Boys-meet-Biohazard ditty,
they continued with"Thanks, Detroit.
My boys in Downset and Madball are
next. Once again, we're Dog Eat Dog
from New York. Peace. We have two
more songs." And on and on.
But these are the rules of hard-core,'
and as all the bands urged, support your
local scene, be true to yourself and
bring all your buddies along for the
ride; a third of the audience of maybe
150 were friends of the band and some-
how made it on stage to chant back-
ground vocals at some point in the
night. Madball brought all their friends
from other bands (and dedicated songs
to them) as well as gave shout outs to the
road crew, the hard-core scene, their
friends they left back home, their friend
who was shot in Detroit, the guy selling
t-shirts and probably everyone else in
the club except me.
We missed openers Cold As Life,
but discussion in the men's bathroom
suggested it was a great set. LA hard-
core vets Downset came on just fif-
teen minutes after the pleasant but
nonthreatening Dog Eat Dog, kicking
off their rap-flavored hard-core with
the appropriately entitled "Anger."
The band immediately has two prob-
lems facing future success, one being
their exact similarity in song style and
structure as Rage Against the Ma-
chine, and the other a major label
(Mercury) that picked them up for
release without realizing most hard-
core doesn't make MTV's Buzz Bin.
With the exception of the slightly
more melodic Rage boys and thrash /
rap crossover Biohazard (yeah, they
received a dedication from the boys
in Downset, you know it), the hard-
core scene is limited to an economi-
cally undesirable cross section of the
population, mainly boys under 16 and
aging metalheads in Pantera t-shirts,
both heavily populating the crowd.
But give credit where it's due,
because even with the departure of
one guitarist a few weeks before,
Downset played a tight, angry set,
marred only by their annoying in-
between song raps and some audi-
ence fuckhead loser shit who kept
yelling "White power." Sure, I felt
sorry when other assholes in the crowd
started yelling "shut up and play mu-
sic" after lead singer Rey Oropeza
went off on a tirade, but I couldn't
really disagree with the hecklers; his
remarks on rape (they're against it)
and individuality (they're for it) were
well intentioned but had a scripted,
fore feel. They may ask "Is Doc Mar-
ten more important than a move-
ment?" in the song
"Prostitutionalized" but at least they
could sound a little more spontaneous
about their revolution. , "
So it was a pleasant surprise to see
a sharp contrast at the end of the set,
when their love of the "scene" came
out so naturally. Not only did they
send their love out to the "straight
edge movement, the real skinheads,
everyone in the scene" but they started The MCAT has Its Own Agenda;
really interacting with the crowd.
During "Breed the Killer" a drunken Its Purpose is to Examine Your
metalhead in a bright red sweatshirt understanding of Key Scientific
walked up on stage, stood there for aUa
minute in front of the band and then Concepts in a Non-Routine Way.
sang the chorus to the song into the
lead singer's outstretched mike. EXCEL provides Clear, Professional
Definitely check out the boys in Instruction, Succinct Science Notes,
Madball, who ended the night with a Videotapes for Further Clarification,
sea of massive stage divers and a vio-
lent pit up front. The band were once Focused Reviews & Individual Help.
known as legendary hard-core heroes For Maximum MCAT Scores and
Agnostic Front, and along with their
new stuff (which was well received) Affordable Tuition, Choose to EXCEL!
they played AF classics like "Down By
Law." In the end they sent out their 996=1500
respect and called the whole hard-core
scene "family." Test Preparation
So, thanks dad, for a cool as shit tPrp ain
show. Just less talk, more rock next 1100 South University
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Downset are a band of many faces.
ontinued from page 8
an instant to a low-key, jazzy "Yes"
The women are especially good,
and Kander and Ebb write their best
Music for women. Each has her own
niche: Donna Lewis does the jazzy
torch songs, Sabrina Childers does
the sexy vamps, Marie Boyle does the
0Lewis took a while to warm up,
ut once she did ("Maybe This Time")
she was red-hot. Childers - also an
adept dancer - worked it in "Arthur
ii the Afternoon" and raised the tem-
perature in "All That Jazz." With the
exception of a tepid "Colored Lights,"
every number Boyle sang was perfec-
tion. She ripped into a jarring "How
Lucky Can You Get," broke hearts
ith "Isn't This Better" and knocked-
eni-dead in "New York, New York."
Just by the nature of the material,
the-men don't steal the spotlight too
often. Kurt Schaeffer made a bit of a
splash early on with his campy "Sara
Lee," but fizzled quickly. 1993 Uni-
versity Musical Theatre alum Danny
Gurwin, on the other hand, clearly
arose as the most versatile performer
in the show. Portraying roles from a
igolo ("Arthur in the Afternoon"), to
adiva choreographer ("Pain"), to a
nerdy "Mr. Cellophane," Gurwin
proved himself a gifted actor - and
his voice is adream as well. Gurwin is
one of the best and brightest new
tenors to emerge from this area in
quite a while, and he's already taken
The production's single flaw was
Aat every singer's microphone - at
ne point or another - faded in and
out. This annoyance - most egre-
gious in Lewis' opening title song -
continued throughout the show, and
was especially prominent in the bal-
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