Monday, February 05, 2007

Go sing Gao Ping

After my complaints about gutteralising tennis players yesterday, now we have classical (fine/modern/serious) pianists who sing along with their own compositions - intentionally.
I've just been listening - half-heartedly - to Gao Ping, who writes his own music, and writes it for a 'vocalising pianist.' Oh, dear. Of course the audience raved at him (well, there was one bloke going 'Yahoo' above the polite clapping), and of course the man can actually play. But his idea that it's not unusual for pianists to sing along to their playing is okay, except where it detracts from the composer's music. I suppose you could say it isn't detracting in this case, but that's a moot point. I kept thinking my wife was calling me from upstairs.

For the record, he was playing: Concealed Kisses; Lightspeed Worlds; Prayers Mask; Two Soviet Love Songs for Vocalizing Pianist. There were bits of Shostakovich thrown into the last one, and some popular melody by Gershwin, or Irving Berlin, or Cole Porter, or somesuch. And then it ended with a great crash, and a fall down the keyboard...and surprise! that was it. (The yahooer then yahooed.)

Ping's site tells us: "A New Zealand critic described Gao Ping's performances as "spellbinding" and "magical." Jack Body has said that Gao Ping is a "total musician, a pianist of great intelligence and sensitivity, an astounding improviser, and a composer whose effortless fluency I envy deeply." The People's Music has called Gao's recitals "sensational" and the Cincinnati Enquirer praised Gao's technique as "fleet and facile".

I'm afraid Jack Body's opinion of what is new and what is worthwhile - and mine - don't often coincide. Occasionally Body will produce something that could conceivably be called music, but in general he's made his name doing things that nobody calls music except those who want to be on the bandwagon looking for the Emperor's new clothes.
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