November 2013


ONE-NIGHT-ONLY screening of the newly restored  “Too Much Johnson” in New York, Monday, Nov. 25 at the Directors Guild of America Theater, 110 West 57th St.

If anyone needs no introduction, it is Orson Welles, although he in fact introduced himself countless times to movie and television audiences, above all in his many appearances in commercials, and even to live audiences. There is as much misinformation about him as there is about George Washington. (For one thing, Citizen Kane is not his best film, as impressive as it is.) As with any artist, we have to understand his life work as a whole, as compromised as some of it may be, before making judgments and creating hierarchies. The varied activities he pursued—in some cases with substantial success—before he made Citizen Kane are familiar enough, even outside the world of cinephiles, but not everyone has thought about how they worked together to bring him within reach of the innovations of Kane.

Proust, architecte

— “C’pauvre vieux, i m’fait d’la peine1”. — Mais pourquoi? — Son truc est bourré de SPOILERS. Il m’a gâché pour moi le bouquin de Marcel. — Mais il ne faut que lire l'avertissement au lecteur; voilà au tout début t’es bien prévenu: Avertissement au lecteur: cet article est bourré de SPOILERS.

Grzegorz Jarzyna’s Nosferatu, after Bram Stoker’s Dracula from TR Warszawa and Teatr Narodowy to BAM

BAM celebrated Hallowe'en with a production of Nosferatu, Grzegorz Jarzyna's own adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel, Dracula, performed by his own TR Warszawa in a co-production with the Teatr Narodowy. I'm a particular admirer of Polish theater, but not of what I've seen of Pan Jarzyna's worka. When TR Warzawa's production of Shakespeare's Macbeth came to Brooklyn under the auspices of St. Ann's Warehouse, I came away with quite a negative impression, largely because I thought it arbitrary and self-indulgent. Shakespeare's words, which have been translated into Polish very ably more than once, can bring across his plays so powerfully, if we only hear them from that actors mouths, not through complex electronics and sound effects. Unlike Macbeth, Nosferatu, sporting the name Stoker's estate forced Prana-Film to adopt for F. R Murnau's classic film, presents itself as Jarzyna's own work, and for that reason, I'm not inclined to purism. The Irish playwright, critic, impresario, and theatrical manager created in Dracula a great novel with complex resonances which have inspired theater and cinema audiences for generations, and seems to go on spawning adaptations generation after generation, much as Shakespeare's plays did from the Restoration to the present day, not that the process doesn't continue today. However, we adhere more to observe the text today, however we might play with the rest of his creation. I came to BAM mainly curious about what the Polish slant on the Dracula story might be.
Contemporary Music

Hotel Elefant: Light and Dark, at Roulette, September 23, 2013

The so-called "major" institutions in New York have not been entirely oblivious to the music that is being written now, for example Alan Gilbert's New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center, although they seem to be flagging somewhat in the past season or two. It was demoralizing to see the superb Tully Scope Festival, which did an admirable job of surveying and balancing the most important trends in music as it is practised today, from Les Arts Florissants to Tyondai Braxton, vanish after one season. It has fallen to smaller, younger organizations to make the music of our own time and place heard. ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), now ten years old, is perhaps the most visible of these, and it is to the credit of both Lincoln Center and the young virtuosi of ICE that they maintain a presence a various Lincoln Center series, like Mostly Mozart and White Lights. (But I still wish they'd resurrect Tully Scope—perhaps with a more attractive name!) We can only count ourselves lucky that a symbiosis exists between the larger, older organizations and upstarts like ICE, and that they make the effort to bring their work to a larger audience, but it is clear where the leadership lies.

Handel’s Aci Galatea e Polifemo by Le concert d’Astrée

After the Boston Early Music Festival's magnificent production of Handel's first opera Almira, certainly a youthful work, from before he left for Italy, but such a great one, it is fascinating to hear another of his early dramatic works from a little later. He wrote Aci, Galatea e Polifemo as a cantata or serenata for a neapolitan royal wedding in 1708 (a year after his first cantata Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno and in the same year as his first oratorio La Resurrezione), and it feels to me very far to the opera end of the spectrum.
Berkshire Review

Andris Nelsons Conducts in Boston: BSO Fall Concerts Plus András Schiff Recital

Andris Nelsons has now made his first appearance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra since being appointed its new Music Director. He will return for one concert in the spring and then assume full duties next fall. On October 17th, he was welcomed very warmly with a standing ovation, and at the end of the evening received another, well deserved one for a very effective performance of Brahms’s Third Symphony.
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