A Very Disney Soliloquey to Grief, Loss, and Confusion

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, aka “The Dude,” delivered on his excellent conduction of Mestophelian Steven Mackey’s “Beautiful Passing.” Alas, Mackay did not. As the story goes, Mackey’s mother was dying; he wanted to create a musical homage to express her beautiful passing. I’m not sure where he was at the time of his mother’s passing or the lead up to same, but he couldn’t have been in the same room. Not to seem rude, but Mackay’s music was so dissonant it was hard to hear. The ears wanted to shut down almost immediately. Were it not for the extraordinary prowesss, beauty, and virtuoso athleticism of violinist Leila Josefowicz, the audience might have all committed suicide then and there. Initially, there was hope that what began like a strangled “West Side Story,” all rough and hewn largely and loudly, would provide even momentary comfort. Only Josepowicz’s ardent violinguisitcs sustained us. This is not to say that Mackey’s composition was all bluster, there were petite hints of life, spirituality, and humankind sprinkled throughout. Alas, poor Mrs. Mackey’s death must have been long, drawn out, and excruciatingly painful.
That not-with-standing, Ms. Josefowicz performs with animation and clear intent. She hearts her material. One wonders if she really wanted to play Mackey’s erratic, ecclectic and burdensom dirge or would rather have played something lovely and life-affirming? Something that might leave audiences wanting more? Buying her versions of musical rendition?
Post intermission, the LA Master Chorale entered with great cememony. Theirs was a well-sung Ode to Brahms — “Requium,” Ein deutsche Requiem, Op. 45.
Not an up evening, no; but in its defense, it was like a slab of intenseness fell all around one. The Euro-Bavarian spiritual, obligatory solemnity, and emotion exposes the grieving soul of human kind. Ultimately, one is forced to listen for the nuances that give us and is life. One is forced to listen to the fluttering of notes, suffering passion, a frayed heart. One hears the spiritual combat within Brahams, his artists, and oneself.
These sounds are large like thunder. They climb. A wretching Agonistes sits first chair. Yet from despair comes Matthias Goerne, the voice of hope. With deep baritone and wonderfully empty hands, he personifies Humankind entirely within itself — grappeling with the impossible. The Chorale spars with Goerne’s extraordinary soul exposed descrying the human condition. Even he, however, bows slightly under the weight of the evening’s song. For heavy is the load we carry to our graves. “Blessed are the dead” the lyric says. I might add, “For they no longer have anything to fear.” They have met God and found him nothing more than euphamism for nothing.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the evening?
Kudo’s to the Dude’s wonderfully long baton down at finis, Leila Josefowicz’s stilleto pumps, cheekbones, and enjoyment of her instrument, Schafter’s marvelous voice, Goerne’s exhaltingly bassoon-like exuberance, and the Chorale’s ability to perform to expectation.

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One Response to “A Very Disney Soliloquey to Grief, Loss, and Confusion”

  1. meimeihu Says:

    Enjoyed the review, allowing me to enjoy the concert with emotional protection! Sounds like the music helped the audience feel one’s discomfort, pain, withdrawal… I hope it was somewhat cathartic?!

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