This is challenging music. Not in the sense that its difficult to listen to, not challenging in the way of Schoenberg,Stockhausen or early Glass and Reich, but challenging in that it seems to defy what might otherwise seem as weaknesses in contemporary music- the obvious borrowings, blatant allusions and juxtapositions that leave no room for subtlety... its not going to warm up to many, but its important to note that the contrasts here are so delineated that they can not be a mistake-this is intentional. The crass obviousness of the middle eastern 'sound' or the christian 'sound' are placed right next to each other to only deepen the division between the different musics that supposedly "meld", appearing as part of golijov's intent, yet there gesture seems a suggestion a real unity despite radically disparate pieces. The conception of the juxtapositions are what are important here.. and the postmodern obsession with signage rather than suggestion or individualistic style.
The music flies in the face of a number of conventions. The third movement in particular, with its obvious techno influences, defies the definition of that bullshit category of "classical music" (as if to bring the point home, a famous mozart soprano is singing in a most unorthodox and most un-mozartean way) and that is a triumph in this regard- a confrontational, in-your-face attitude that i really appreciate.
the music also defies the idea of mixing that we may expect from any kind of art-music endeavor. It feels more like a pastiche without the -iche, so to speak. a work of clearly intentional seriousness that denies us the privilege of hearing one coherent musical language. Instead we get several, and the result is less than comforting.
Banal? somewhat. interesting? yes. But before anyone can simply condemn this work we as a self-respecting art judge have to see what the intent of the musician was... and Was it to blend the music into some unity? NO. clearly, obviously not.
Was it to fulfill our expectations? nope, not that either.
As i said, this is difficult music.
Season wrap-up at the Met and NY Phil
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