Tag Archives: Mark Kaplan

[88] Alban Berg / Igor Stravinsky – Violin Concertos

12 Dec

It takes me only a moment to place why these awkward, off-putting sounds feel so familiar – this is the music that H. P. Lovecraft must surely have been hearing in his head while writing “The Music of Erich Zann”.

Mark Kaplan and the Budapest Festival Orchestra

Mark Kaplan and the Budapest Festival Orchestra

That the short story was written more than a decade before the Violin Concerto is no barrier where the great old ones are concerned . . .

The hauntingly beautiful string sounds are full of unnatural corners and half remembered fears, a stunning juxtaposition of appealing and appalling.  My 5-year-old daughter on hearing this piece could not decide whether it made her sleepy or afraid.

It sketches an image somewhere between terror and the rightness of everything.  Words clearly do not do justice to the complexities, the emotional affect of either the composition or the performance.

The Stravinsky Violin Concerto that follows the Berg – both performed flawlessly by Mark Kaplan – is almost an afterthought under these circumstances, the controversial composer sounding almost traditional after the genius of Berg’s horror.

I am so taken by the Berg piece that I am sure I am not giving Stravinsky a fair shake, but I can’t bring myself to care.  The price of admission was more than covered in the half hour of the opening two movements.

What the Stravinsky does achieve is to allow the listener a return to the mundane world, rejoining reality rather than floating away untethered before the disc ends.

It is almost enough to make you believe the Great Old Ones are real, and still out there dreaming of waking.

Next Week:  Luciano Berio – Simfonia for Eight Voices and Orchestra

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 88 = 10%)
Heard before blogging? No. (12 of 88 = 14%)
Recommend? Yes. (71 of 88 = 81%)


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