Beautiful. Like Italian Mahler. I love that period of vivid maximalist orchestration that gave us jewels like Petrushka and Daphnis & Chloe. Disney tried hard to recreate it in their early films.Franz Schreker's opera Die Gezeichneten (The Ones Marked by Fate) is a glorious example of the decadent post-Mahler Romanticism in early 20th century. The score is sumptuous and richly ornamented, although the sexually-charged story is pure daftness (Alban Berg found it "kitschy"). None of its three protagonists is particularly sympathetic. The "good" tenor, the hideously deformed nobleman Alviano, considers himself virtuous and honorable, but allows his friends to kidnap women and enjoy them on his private island. The evil baritone, Count Tamere, is intent to make every woman who catches his eyes "his whore". Both vie for the painter Carlotta, an otherworldly beauty so frail that her body will be destroyed by physical love. Carlotta leads Alviano on, professes her love for him in order to capture his ardent, noble soul on canvas -- only to friendzone him once she finishes the painting and goes for the hunky Tamere. When Alviano hears Carlotta whisper Tamere's name in her post-coital dying breath, he kills his rival, then goes mad.
The music is richer than you can ever imagine. Each of the protagonist is invested with, not just a couple of leitmotifs, but a complete atmosphere: Alvino inhabits the world of melancholic descending figures, that are sometimes at odds with his ardent vocal line. Tamere's knightly music is horn-heavy and rhythmic. Whenever Carlotta appears, or even mentioned, the music turns into organza and fairy dust.
What I have cued here is the second scene of Act II. Carlotta explains to Alviano her artistic vision, and how she needs Alviano to help her bring it to life. This production is interesting in that Alviano is depicted not as physically deformed, but as a transvestite. I think this makes a lot of sense and cranks up the sexual tension of the opera even more.
Penderecki wrote that shrieky string thing for a radio contest and submitted it untitled, and it didn't win. He then resubmitted it with its current gaudy tragedy-porn name and it won. I'm very cynical about it. It's not even difficult music to write, and he hasn't written anything else of substance.
tis for the spook season
The avant-garde Penderecki of the Threnody and St. Luke's Passion is gone, but even in his neo-romantic moods, the Second Violin Concerto "Metamorphoses" is a very strong work to me.Penderecki wrote that shrieky string thing for a radio contest and submitted it untitled, and it didn't win. He then resubmitted it with its current gaudy tragedy-porn name and it won. I'm very cynical about it. It's not even difficult music to write, and he hasn't written anything else of substance.
Like the other arts, music has been vandalised by Post-Modernism and now it's about the narrative of the (often fourth-rate) composer rather than any self-evidenced merit, most of the time. The Metamorphosen has emotional weight; Romanticism is still bearing fruit because we are still in the Romantic period (I view Modernism and its tumour, Post-Modernism, as contained within the Romantic, as they exist conceptually to contradict its Dionysus humanism with Apollo irony, and then with Eris chaos), but it is very difficult to find anything to truly say in such a stale medium: appeal to emotion is never going to fall completely flat, but the ceiling of emotion was raised so high in Mahler's Germanic blazes of divine ecstasy, and the floor dropped so deep by Tchaikovsky's wailing, shuddering soliloquys to cold death, that musings someway along the spectrum are merely fodder - Romanticism has been fully excavated; there is nothing yet to explore in the medium, in my opinion; Stravinsky and Nabokov gave it a eulogy before its burial, and then its later necessary renaissance.Nowadays, a pee o'sea composer writing on a contentious subject is pretty much immune from criticism and is a shoo-in for big prizes (I'm thinking of Angel's Bone by Du Yun)