6A - Friday, October 8, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Mariinsky Orchestra to take
on Russian giants at the 'U'
The Walkmen just released their sixth album, Lisbon,
Walkmen bring crunchy
guitar riffs to Detroit
sound like "guys in
pants on the beach"
By MIKE KUNTZ
Daily Arts Writer
In the few short weeks since its release,
The Walkmen's sixthstudioalbum,Lisbon,
has been showered
with critical praise. The Walkmen
For a lot of bands these
days, it seems like Sunday at 8p.m.
that elusive breakout The Magic Stick
well after the first or
second try, giving art-
ists time - for better or worse - to tinker
with and perfect their sound before larger
audiences start tuning in.
The New York vets have come close to a
breakout a few times, most recently with
2008's critically lauded You a Me on the
back of its single "In the New Year."
But the band is still a little stunned it hit
the jackpot on the sixth try.
"We were incredibly surprised," organ-
ist Peter Bauer said in an interview with
the Daily. "I don't think we've ever had a
record received this well."
The band has been putting out records
steadily since 2002, back when all things
in the rockun'roll tent revolved around
garage-rock acts like The Strokes, leaving
room for little else. But nowadays, when
more slow-burning bands like The Nation-
al can generate a #2 record, it's not sur-
prising that their New York counterparts
aren't far behind.
"I think, in general, the music that's
semi-popular right now is a lot better than
it was like four years ago - that a band
like Animal Collective could get so big
nowadays is great," Bauer said. "In 2003
or 2004, it seemed like four-on-the-floor
rock was the popular thing, it was almost
like anything else was annoying to peo-
This time around, people seem to be
catching on. After an enthusiastic recep-
tion of their fittingly rainy set at this
summer's Lollapalooza, the band seemed
poised. They even made the trek to Eng-
land last May for the Pavement-curated
All Tomorrow's Parties festival - with a
mid-set shout out from Stephen Malkmus,
"I don't know what happened, but they
dissed us in 'Range Life,' " Bauer said.
"They put'The Walkmen' in there after we
played the first night." (The original lyrics
target the Smashing Pumpkins, resulting
in a lot of huffing and puffing from vocalist
and guitarist Billy Corgan when the track
was first released.)
"You know, they ask us to play this thing
and then they diss us like two nights later,"
Bauer laughed. "I'm dying to figure out
For Lisbon, the band actually spent time
in the Portuguese capital - a whole three-
days - and found enough inspiration
there to create the record's damp mood as
well as its namesake.
"There was something in the quality of
the city that reflected the music we were
making, so we named the record after it,"
Tracks like "Angela Surf City" and
"Victory" contrast Hamilton Leithauser's
scorched vocals with layers of rain-dam-
aged guitars - all delivered with just the
right amount of gloomy, room-generated
reverb to keep everything foggy.
"The whole time we were there it was
raining. When we were standing on the
beach and it was raining it kind of seemed
similar to what we were doing," Bauer
said. "I was trying to explain it to this guy
in Portugal: It's like guys in pants on the
beach, you know? That sort of sounds like
In making the new record, the band
enlisted producers John Congleton (Mod-
est Mouse, Okkervil River) and Chris Zane
(Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club), both alt-
rock veterans whose old-school ethic and
ear for vintage sounds seemed tailored to
The Walkmen's new material.
"John's really into these old Soviet
microphones," Bauer smirked. "They look
like the Soviet equivalent of what you're
Despite its cohesive final mix, the record
went through a number of different phases
See WALKMEN, Page 7A
By JOE CADAGIN
Daily Arts Writer
The Mariinsky Orchestra is big - big
sound, big talent, big names, big home-
Since the time of Peter the Great, the
Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theater has
been an artistic treasure and a source of
national pride for Rus-
sia. Having survived The
200 years in a nation of
political upheaval and
instability, the Mariinsky Orchestra
Orchestra has reached S
worlwide . . Sunday at
thanks to its most recent4
and ambitious director, Hill Audioim
Maestro Valery Gergiev. Tikes fom$10
This Sunday, Ann Arbor
audiences will witness this powerhouse
of an orchestra in a concert at Hill Audi-
Gergiev and his orchestra have toured
the globe extensively, resulting ina recent
resurgence of interest in Russian music.
Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra have
made 10 UMS appearances, most notably
their five-concert cycle of 11 Shostakovich
symphonies in 2006.
For the first half of Sunday's program,
the Mariinsky will perform the luscious
and passionate Piano Concerto No. 3 of
With its full chords and dazzling solo
cadenzas, the concerto is regarded as
one of the most difficult and technically
demanding works for piano. However,
in the hands of a skilled pianist, Rach-
maninoff's Third can be a moving experi-
The Mariinsky may have found just
such a pianist in soloist Denis Matsuev,
who will join the orchestra for Rach-
maninoff's Third at the Hill concert. The
winner of the 1998 International Tchai-
kovsky Competition, Matsuev has been
compared to legendary Russian pianist
Vladimir Horowitz by The London Times.
The second half of the Mariinsky's
program is devoted to Gustav Mahler's
Symphony No. 5. As the 2011 centennial
anniversary of Mahler's death approach-
es, orchestras have been honoring the
composer in their season repertoire. For
Ann Arbor audiences, the Mariinsky's
performance will be a unique live sym-
"There's something really exciting
about listening to Mahler's music live,"
said Residential College associate profes-
sor Naomi Andre, who teaches a seminar
on the history of the symphony. "It's really
hard to get that same sense when you're
listening to your CDs or your iPod. And all
music, I believe, is wonderful when you
get to experience it live. But there's some-
thing ... wonderful with Mahler."
Composed between 1901 and 1902 (the
same, decade as Rachmaninoff's Piano
Concerto No. 3), Mahler's Fifth Symphony
is a massive orchestral work in five move-
ments. The piece is primarily known for
its romantic fourth movement, the Ada-
gietto, which was dedicated to his wife,
"It was literally a love letter he wrote to
Alma," Andre said. "It's just a wonderful
moment to take a deep breath and be pen-
sive ... It's just so lush and so sensuous and
Along with his eight other symphonies,
the Fifth marks an important point in a
symphonic history that began with Franz
Joseph Haydn in the18th century.
"In terms of the well known sympho-
nies - what's become canonic - Mahler
represents the end of the Germanic tradi-
tion that had dominated the symphony,"
Andre said. "It's interesting to be a hun-
dred years from that and looking back."
For listeners new to Mahler, it can be
difficult to adapt to his often slow and
expansive compositional style. In fact,
Mahler is famous for his comment to fel-
low composer Jean Sibelius, "A symphony
should be like the world. It must embrace
Andr6 pointed out that when listening
to Mahler, "you really have to slow your
pulse down" to enjoy the composer's rich
and complex orchestration. She went on to
assert that Mahler's music has a univer-
sal appeal because of its "all-embracing"
"This is where it all comes together -
life, and thought, and who we are, and
falling in love, and (our place) in the world
and in nature - all of this comes together
in Mahler's symphonies."
The works of Mahler and Rachmaninoff
will come alive through the Mariinsky
under Gergiev this Sunday at Hill Audito-
rium at 4 p.m.
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