Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Rest is Noise in Performance

The Rest is Noise in Performance
Alex Ross, lecturer
Ethan Iverson, piano
Saturday, April 24, 10am
Herbst Theatre

PhotobucketI was actually awake & alert for this relatively early morning event featuring critic, writer & blogger Alex Ross. Mr. Ross, at a music stand, would read an excerpt about a 20th century composer from his book The Rest is Noise, followed by pianist Ethan Iverson playing one of the composer's pieces. In 90 minutes they surveyed 12 composers, including Arnold Schoenberg, George Gershwin & György Ligeti. The quality of Mr. Ross's writing is already well known, & he was funny as well as informative, performing quotes in the voices of Schoenberg, Cocteau, Vincent Price, Virgil Thompson, a matronly Mrs. Downes, Adorno, & Jacqueline Kennedy. At one point he self-deprecatingly realized that his Adorno sounded a bit like his Mrs. Downes.

Mr. Iverson confidently played all his selections from memory, & his playing was consistently even & unfussy, even though he had to tackle pieces in wide-ranging styles. He ended the program by performing a 2-part improvisation based solely on pitches shouted out at random by the audience. Before beginning he remarked that it was going into Webern territory, but he made a kind of sense out of the note collection nonetheless.

Somehow Goldstar manged to seat me right next to the Opera Tattler in a box, even though we purchased our tickets entirely separately. Mr. Ross greeted people in the lobby & signed books after the show, but I was just too much in awe to meet him, even if only to thank him for putting me on his blogroll & for unwittingly providing the circumstances for a fateful meeting.

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