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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tonight in New York: Go Hear Timo Andres and Gabe Kahane "Do" Ives

I know I talk about Hilary Hahn way too much around here (basically it's because (1) she's awesome and (2) her publicist is just extremely good at blogging/tweeting/etc), but did you guys read this review of her recent Washington recital (helpfully tweeted by a piqued publicist)? There was were all these dumb complaints about how she played music that sounded raucous and modern, or at least did sound raucous and modern when it was written a hundred years ago, and probably does still sound raucous and modern to people who haven't listened to a lot of music written since then, and there was this especially weird line about Charles Ives and George Antheil being a "second-tier Americans." Now PEOPLE. I'm not an especially huge fan of Charles Ives, I never have been, but even when I HATED Charles Ives my one-liner was "of all the great composers, Charles Ives is easily the worst"—because no matter how smug or even ungainly his music often seemed to me, in my rash youth, there was really no denying that Charles Ives was, in addition to being one of the most influential composers of the last century, capable of great beauty. So don't go hating on performers who have a greater appreciation of his music than you have managed to cultivate, because maybe someday you'll go hear Jeremy Denk play the First Piano Sonata at the Ojai Festival and you'll realize that you've been terribly mistaken all along, and Ives is in fact a very wise and sympathetic composer.

Or you'll go to Merkin Hall tonight, when Timothy Andres and Gabriel Kahane present their own works in dialogue with those of Ives as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, and these extraordinarily ear-pleasing young composer-pianists can show you what THEY hear in his music. I've sung Andres's praises plenty—you all really need to go out and buy his record, Shy & Mighty—but even while the glossy piano-man-ism of Kahane's music is often "not my thing," I am totally at a loss to explain why everybody ELSE isn't a huge fan of his. Look, who DOESN'T want to hear this?

Like, your MOTHER should probably be a huge Gabe Kahane fan. She should hear him on NPR and ask you why the music you listen to isn't as lovely as his. Well, SHOULDN'T she? "If you're going to get me modern music for Christmas, I wish you'd get me something that sounds more like that Gabriel Lehane I heard on NPR," she'll say when she opens the Messiaen CD you got her. You ruined Christmas, AGAIN. Jesus you're a terrible son. Or daughter.

Anyways, it's going to be great tonight. Here's the setlist, an anthology of György Kurtág's Bach arrangements(!), Ives's songs, and original works by both composers. Kahane's singing and playing guitar, in addition to sharing keyboard duties with Andres:

J. S. BACH/GYÖRGY KURTÁG Göttes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit

CHARLES IVES The Things out Fathers Loved

TIMOTHY ANDRES At the River (world premiere)

GABRIEL KAHANE Durrants

IVES The Housatonic at Stockbridge

KAHANE Fall 2007 (from Piano Sonata)

ANDRES Some Connecticut Gospel

BACH/KURTÁG Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr

KAHANE Where are the arms?

ANDRES How can I live in your world of ideas?

IVES Tom Sails Away

KAHANE The Baffled King (world premiere)

KAHANE North Adams

BACH/KURTÁG Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir

IVES Serenity

This morning, Ecstatic Music organizer Judd Greenstein tweeted a discount code—IVES—which you can use to buy tickets here.

4 comments:

Patrick said...

How do they possibly have someone on staff of the WASHINGTON POST, for %*^#'s sake, who does not understand how a DOUBLE (basically, divisions) works? So, not only does he not understand 18th Century music and clearly(!) 20th Century, but he also does not comprehend early Beethoven style. What is he good for and who the hell hired him???

Anonymous said...

You are such a wonderful writer, you make me smile.

A peevish Greg said...

Amanda Ameer's whining seems graceless.

Battey is clearly an idiot, but in addition to the dumb things he wrote about Ives and Antheil, he also wrote: "Hilary Hahn, one of the greatest violinists in the world today, can do anything she wants... Listening to this freak of nature play is to be in the presence of instrumental talent that comes along once in a generation, if that." That's certainly not any more intelligent than his remarks about Ives, but because it flatters her client she gives it a pass.

Dan Johnson said...

Haha—good call, Patrick, re: the Doubles. It doesn't look as if he's on staff, though. Maybe I should start freelancing for the Post, too?

Greg, I agree that thoughtless praise can be nearly as damaging to the arts as thoughtless criticism, but she'd be a lousy publicist indeed if she went around complaining about the critics who overrate her clients, and what's more I'm glad she's offered me this opportunity to support the public shaming of music critics.