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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

bizarre things in new york

Bizarre things…. At the Met, for the Das Rheingold operning Gala, the elaborate machinery somehow didn’t work altogether. However, given the enormous enthusiasm for James Levine reappearing – very long ovation, followed by the national anthem – almost nothing could go wrong. What is a glitch in the spectacle compared to  such an outpouring of audience affection?

No chaos, though. On the other hand, at the Guggenheim Museum, to go along with the exhibition Kenneth Silver has organized about Chaos* is a presentation – well, parody? – about Jean Cocteau’s film Blood of a Poet (the original starring Lee Miller in her gorgeousness)  with live music by

Now this reminds me of the live presentation of Brief Encounter, which uses film clips and a lot of inventiveness. I saw another live presentation of it in London last year , no less inventive and moving. Trevor Howard would break any sensitive soul up, and does, no matter how we get to see him.

Mahler is still going and going on, and the famous 2nd, with the two or three hammer blows – Alan Gilbert, whose rendering we heard last week, chose three hammer blows. Mahler, superstitious about the significance of three, finally opted, it seems, for two.
Another choice had to be made also, about the order of the Andante and the Scherzo, Mahler having wavered over that also:
Gilbert chose the Andante first, finding it the better bridge.

As for the hammer and loudness. It seems that various percussion groups are scouting about in back yards in Brooklyn to find things that will make a pleasingly large sound. Of course, percussion groups!

On the far quieter side, the exhibition of  Jon
Schueler: the Castelli Years
has a loveliness and yet an excitement to it that are rare. Magda Salvesen, his widow, has put together his work (as she did his life) with a grace and stillness that speak as loudly as those percussion instruments. Her edition of The Sound of Sleat has his writings about Mallaig, as sensitive as his paintings. I am especially taken by the North,  with the depth of fog

Of the many plays that stay in your mind, Time Stands Still stands out for me, because of Laura Linney’s portrayal of the wounded photographer who returns from the war, wounded in spirit as in limb. Her acerbic wit comes through every line by Donald Margulies, and you feel her living the prickliness.


Quite remarkable, the long-lasting spectacles we are so addicted to here. I well remember reading the Iliad for days in a row, and als Gertrude Stein’s the Making of Americans: marathons, both of them. Now, miraculaously, there is a VERY VERY long representation (seven hours, seems long to me) of the encounter of  a reader and The Great Gatsby. Thiz Gatz is thanks to the Elevator Repair Service, a company that has put on, already, The Sound and the Fury, as weel ass The Sun Also Rises. The chemistry here, as the review in the New York Times puts it,  is the variation on the formula: Boy meets book. Boy gets book. Boy  becomes lost in book.


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