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January 24, 1995 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-24

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's

St. Martin's 'Four Seasons' still soars

By BRIAN WISE
Considering the fact that Vivaldi's
"Four Seasons" is the most frequently
recorded piece of any in classical
music, it is extraordinary that the
Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields'
1970 version has dominated record

Academy of St.
Martin-in-the-Fields
Rackham Auditorium
January 22, 1995

the case Sunday night at Rackham
Auditorium.
In addition to the "Four Seasons,"
Handel's Concerto Grosso in A major
and Britten's "Variations on a Theme
by Frank Bridge for String Orches-
tra" demonstrated where the chamber
orchestra's foundations lie - in the
British and the baroque.
Performing double duties as con-
ductor and violin soloist, Iona Brown
led the group in the traditional ba-
roque format while the 17 musicians
responded to her direction with fine
precision.
Tempos in the Vivaldi were on
the brisk side, creating a genuine
sense of vigor and spontaneity in
the allegros. Pictorial details were
frequently highlighted, notably the
soft trilling in the solo violin and the
delicate harpsichord configuration
that provided the effect of a bird
song in "Spring." The swift arpeg-
gios and scalar patterns that allude
to a frigid gale in "Winter" seemed
to have taken some inspiration from
reality in this performance.
Nimble tempos didn't diminish
Brown's expressive playing, which
often displayed a romantic tone wor-
thy of Tchaikovsky or Brahms. Yet

it generally stayed within the stylis-
tic parameters of the music, and she
was attentive to the gradations of
dynamics and texture in her inter-
pretation.
Much of the aggressiveness that
the "Four Seasons" commanded was
tempered in Handel's Concerto
Grosso in A major. This work was the
11th of 12 concerto grossi the com-
poser wrote for the 18th century En-
glish aristocracy, and is considered to
be the pinnacle of late-baroque or-
chestral writing.
Unlike those of his contemporary
Vivaldi, these concerti were rather
conservative works, at once aristo-
cratic and ornate, pompous and deli-
cate. The Academy approached the A
major concerto with a warm, full-
bodied sound that never sounded opu-
lent or forceful. The tapestry of me-
lodic lines in the fugal allegro was
woven with utmost clarity.
The Britten was a far more sizable
offering, sharing only its English ori-
gins with the Handel. The piece is
closer to the Vivaldi, however, in its
technical demands, (although entirely
in the realm of 20th century tech-
nique). This set of variations is a
pastiche of musical parodies, includ-

store shelves and critics' recommen-
dations ever since its release. The
baroque concerti have turned up in
luxury car commercials and PBS
documentaries, achieving a certain
notoriety that the successful Vivaldi
himself probably didn't experience
when they were first premiered 270
years ago.
Given the Academy's long-stand-
ing association with the work, it would
seem that the act of recreating it in
live performance would be a matter
of routine. Yet familiarity can inspire
the need for new perspectives, as was

Led by lona Brown's fine violin, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields has retained its power over the decades.

ing Viennese waltz clichds, 19th cen-
tury Italian opera arias, Baroquel
bourees, Chopin Funeral Marches anda
other assorted genres.
An inventive use of string sonor-
ity characterized this series of varia-

tions, from the use of mutes to guitar-
like strumming, from pizzicati to ee-
rie harmonics. The Academy demon-
strated their superb flexibility from
beginning to end with this strange but
fascinating piece.

This flexibility has enabled the
Academy to continue selling out con-
cert halls for over 35 years, as it did
again Sunday at Rackham. The stand-
ing ovation the chamber ensemble
received was every bit deserved.

Independent films make a striking 'Effect'

By SHIRLEY LEE
Undeniably provocative and ec-
centric, "The Coriolis Effect" and
"Making Up!" both scrutinize love
as being both a virus and a panacea.
Though unlike one another narra-.
tively and visually, these two brief
stories concern themselves foremost

Sinbad waves his career goodbye, as well as Phil Hartman's
'Houseguest' forgets to Invite a sense of humor

The
Coriolis Effect
and Making Up!
Directed by Louis Venosta
and Katja von Gamier
with Dana Ashbrook and
Jennifer Rubin
with taking a chance on the uncer-
tain.
Fans of efficiency take note: Di-
rector Louis Venosta of "The Corio-
lis Effect" needs a mere 10 seconds to
fully entice you and let you know that
allotting an hour to this black and
white production is a win-win situa-
tion.
At face value, "The Coriolis Ef-
fect," a mediological term meaning
the spinning of the earth, character-

izes how an intense spin effects torna-
does. "The Coriolis Effect" results in
a film that details the empathy and
inspiration Ray and Stan find when
they cross Ruby, a nonsensical but
fearless wild woman, on their mis-
sion to observe the mighty Twister, a
tornado. Essentially, these two men
of science resolve their personal con-
flict through Ruby, who ultimately
walks into Twister as a sacrifice for
the sins of mankind.
To many, "The Coriolis Effect"
may strike them as an eccentric of
Monmartre. But to those true devo-
tees of aesthetics and style before
substance, "The Coriolis Effect" em-
bodies near perfection. Unlike many
films of high artistic visions but
with little heart, "The Coriolis Ef-
fect" epitomizes both heart and soul
into a story of courage shattering
skepticism and love triumphing over
fear.
Venosta, beyond the realm of art-
istry, creates quick-witted and dar-
ingly enlightening dialogue, although
at times it is clich6-laden by trite and
generic metaphors such as "a kiss to
set you free" and speaking of love in
terms of "a leap of faith." The deliv-
ery by Ruby (Jennifer Rubin) tops in
this five-persons-cast, speaking with
conviction, certainty, and disarming,
infectious humor.

The second, "Making Up!," a Ger-
man film, concerns itself with women
and men being in love with the idea of
love. Maischa and Frenzy both lead a
frenzied lifestyle, balancing a hectic
work schedule and the search for the
"right" man.
The quirky humor of the director
in "Making Up!" adds an endearing
dimension to his otherwise swift,
candid approach. The diversity of
topics in "Making Up!" range from
sex to split-second decisions to ex-
posing one's inner self. The cast
puts forward a slightly sarcastic
and caustically convincing deliv-
ery. The thoughts of each character
pummel us rapidly, like gentle
blows, daring us to digest them as
they spew them out.
At the finale, "Making Up!" strikes
an inspirational exit, motivating all
women to pursue their talents and
their dreams before becoming tied
down.
"Making Up!" not only acknowl-
edges that women can fall in love
with their best friends on a nonsexual
level, but clearly and sensitively il-
lustrates how meaningful, redemp-
tive, and sometimes devastating it all
can be.
THE CORIOLIS EFFECT and
MAKING UP! are playing at the
Michigan Theater.

By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
Somewhere between being a comic
juggernaut on "Star Search" (a coveted
role which also launched the 'sky's the
limit' careeroftalkshowimbecile Jenny
Jones), Sinbad became a star. Was it his

Houseguest
Directed by
RandalMiller
with Sinbad and
Phil Hartman

ally irrelevant; you can count on John
Kruk's testicles (Hint: he had one re-
moved) the number of truly funny gags
in the film.
Kevin (Sinbad) is a small-time loan
shark on the run from the mob, (sound
familiar yet?), who runs into middle-
class dullard Gary (Hartman) and his
lily-white family at the airport. Gary is
waiting for an old friend to arrive whom
he hasn't seen in 20-odd years and
mistakes Kevin for his friend. Herein
lies the film'sunderlying and only clever
gag, yet it is of course wasted on the
chowderheads in the audience who wait
in anticipation for someone, anyone, to
get clobbered in the cajones: white
people can't tell black people apart.
This film plays off the inability by the
white, middle-class Gary to even recog-
nize his friend, because he is ofa different
mce. This sad truth is then lost amidst a
nonstop wave ofmoronic slapstick which
would make John Ritter blush.
Naturally once out of initial danger
from his pursuers, Kevin continually
attempts to ditch Gary and his brood
without success. Instead, Kevin and a
grateful audience are treated to life with
Gary, which amounts to life with the

Nelsons without episodes in which
Ricky has girl trouble.
See the hilarious results when an
out-of-place Sinbad goes on a golf out-
ing. Try not to keep from rolling in the
aisles when Sinbad goes wine tasting.
Eventually, if you hadn't guessed,
or turned to the "Daily" crossword
(Hello, does anyone give a shit about
"Houseguest?"Areyououtthere?Ifso,
why?), Kevin teaches Gary, wife, and
kids, to loosen up a little, enjoy life,
really get out there a shake their collec-
tive thangs.
So, Sinbad learns that family is im-
portant. Lame white folk learn they are
lame and really white. Audience learns
that this movie really sucks (or really
like it and are heard exclaiming outside
the theater that they hope someday the
multi-talented Sinbad will team up for
a film with the even more uproarious
Pauly Shore). Hopefully the entertain-
ment industry learns that Sinbad is at
best a "Star Search" champion who
should have maxed out his 15 minutes
sharing a stage with a bloating, possibly
drunk, Ed McMahon, and the Junior
dance champions.
HOU)SEGUESTis playing at Showcase.

I m

pointless supporting role in "A Differ-
ent World?" His cameo in
"Coneheads?" Hosting "Showtime at
the Apollo"? Whatever it was, some
genius at Hollywood Pictures (is there
aworsefilm studio anywhere?) thought
a Sinbad vehicle would be a great film
project.
The result is "Houseguest." Phil
Hartman, who afterbeing theglue which
held together "Saturday Night Live"
for so many years, now has to endure
performing his everymancomic schtick
with Sinbad. The plot is naturally virtu-

great

scores...

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