Page 8-Thursday, May 6, 1982-The Michigan Daily
Even classical music can be fun
By Deborah Cleary
and Maureen Fleming
P DQ BACH has to be seen to be
At least that's what the audience
realized- as they watched Peter
Schickele and the Ann Arbor Chamber
Orchestra perform selected works of
PDQ Bach on April 22 at the Michigan
The composer, known for his simple-
minded melodies and blatant plagiaries
of standard works, is actually the in-
vention of Schickele, who claims the
_ composer is the youngest son of Johann
Sebastian Bach. According to Schickele
the youngest Bach suffered from
"faded genes," and that's 'why his
music is so bad.
As if Schickele should talk. He began
the evening by climbing down the
Michigan Theatre balcony to get to the
podium - he couldn't find the right
door and thought the balcony was the
Theatrics were an integral part of the
performance. The orchestra played en-
thusiastically and responded with good
humor to Schickele's spontaneous im-
provisations that were sometimes, it
seemed, as much a surprise to the or-
chestra as to the audience.
The Civilian Barber, based very
loosely on Rossini's Barber of Seville,
was a cacaphony of false starts, slides,
and other un-Rossiniesque effects such
as a movement for solo mouthpieces
and a troppo forte, beautifully inap-
propriate cymbal crash finale.
The Wide World of Notes was next.
Schickele turned Beethoven's Fifth
Symphony into a contest between the
composer and the orchestra. Tom
Hemingway, sports announcer for
WUOM, helped with the commentary.
The orchestra won after conductor Carl
Daehler lost his place in the music.
After intermission came Chaconne a
son Gout. Schickele accused PDQ of
manic plagerism in this work. "PDQ
Bach was the only composer who
worked on tracing paper. Some of this
rubbed off on me, and I just wanted to
mention it in case you get a sense of
deja voodoo," Schickele said.
Deja voodoo it was, too. Music ranged
from Schubert and Brahms to
"Beatiful Dreamer" and "Happy Bir-
thday," with lots more in between.
Musical performance was best in the
piece dedicated to Count Pointercount,
where the classic 18th century style of
flutes, oboes, and bassoons was in-
terrupted by raucous ragtime melodies
See PDQ, Page 11
(Continued from Page 7)
the course of the work, which provided
for an exciting performance by both
Davidovich and the orchestra.
The festival ended with Rach-
maninoff's Symphony No. 2 in E minor,
Op. 27, a work full of Russian black
humor and rhythmic activity. The first
movement was long and lush, so long
that one began to lose all semblance of
its form. The scherzo, which preceded
the slow movement, was full of vitality;
but ended in a chilling brass chorale
based on Rachmaninoff's creative ob-
session, the Dies irae, the ancient chant
for the dead.
The famous Adagio was voluptuous.
Its celebrated theme was sung in solo
by almost all the winds and strings at
one point and was given an inspired
performance; but its very sensual
lushness reminded one of '40s B-movie
love themes. The final Allegro vivace
evokes the triumphant Russian spirit
overcoming all odds, but not without
reproducing some of the earlier
musical opulence. Perhaps understa-
ting all this naked emotion would have
been more effective in its inter-
The crowd still probably knew the or-
chestra's rendition of The Victors bet-
ter than anything else they played, but
Ann Arbor is lucky to have such a
recurring phenomenon as the May
Festival and the University Musical
Society to consistently present a high
calibre of artists. The programming
could have been less Russian this year,
and it would have been interesting to
see new musical director Riccardo
Muti conduct in an otherwise successful
festivaLThe beauty of the May Festival
is that there is always next year to at-
tempt to do htter.
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June 23 GMAT: Register now for
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