Warsaw Autumn 2006 – X

The second concert yesterday was entitled “Kommander Kobayashi – Opera Saga, Series 2” and took place at the Teatr Wielki(Grand Theater, where the Opera performs).  Being my first time inside there I found it an amazingly large building, more amazing that the performance was on the third floor where they have an extra opera room for smaller opera, a somewhat recital hall size audience but with a still very large stage!

I arrived a little early and was reading the program: it as the second part in a three-part opera project where different composers each created a small opera episode for the same characters.  The general story was a science=fiction one where a crew of people were drifting in space aboard a ship though the story did have off-ship storylines.  The program notes included the backstory from the first part though I didn’t get to read it too deeply before watching the performance. I was expecting that the opera would be pretty fun and light and while quite fun I think the two composers did manage to bring a bit of depth to the characters and the music.

The episodes performed tonight were:

  • Siergiej Newski – The Destruction of Moskow Is Not a Solution
  • Aleksandra Gryka – SCREAM YOU

Some notes I took at the performance:

Newski – music very nicely done, story intro a little clumsy but appreciated to get the backstory, staging a little problematic due to where I was sitting (hard to see things sometimes), very nice use of subtle electronic sounds, music writing very nice, club scene a little strange to switch to recorded electronic pop music but sure what else one would do in that situation, very controlled delicate writing

Gryka – very fun, sort of music on the edge of disintegration, well sung and performed, a little looser in feel than the Newski and had some elements of free-jazz in feel, had a more circus feel to the story than the Newski

I really enjoyed these performances and the operas as a whole very much.  It was a lot of fun and the music was done very well by each composer in their own ways. I have to say that I find that the composers really did have a good command over the extended techniques and noise sources to make them really work (are these techniques really so “extended” anymore?) and had a lot of side thoughts about how composers in Europe must have a lot to draw upon within the realm of experience with instrumental techniques and timbres that the older generations have explored. I also noted to myself that most of the music I’ve heard this festival works with a mechanism of drama, sometimes a bit much but more often done simply quite well.  It’s something I enjoy (Crumb’s music does hold a very big place in my heart) and I find drawn to at times but at the same time it is perhaps not what I myself am after.  I did note to perhaps experiment once again in that area (Explorer II is shaping up to be something of this).

I also found that one aspect of the use of instruments I was really impressed with–not having thought about it so much in a long while–is how easy it is to write and have such a wide palette of sounds and articulations in terms of notating these ideas and how intuitive it is to imagine the sounds.  I myself have been exploring a very limited set of parameters and am committed to continuing that exploration, but the idea of analyzing the qualities of music notation (one gesture can create pitch and duration, articulation are separate and modify qualities of the notes, etc.) and seeing what has been done in the computer music world (i.e. lilypond) and see about either finding or creating  a system from what comes from my analysis.

An very enjoyable performance, good music, and much to think about…

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