issue 12 :: July 2007

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REVIEW: Christopher DeLaurenti

"Favorite Intermissions: Music Before and Between Beethoven • Stravinsky • Holst" CD [GD Stereo]
reviewed by Josh Ronsen
Christopher DeLaurenti of Seattle has released a CD called “Favorite Intermissions.” Subtitled “music Before and Between Beethoven * Stravinsky * Holst,” the record is just that, recordings made during orchestra intermissions with musicians warming up to various and different scales and musical passages. The audience chatters away, ignoring these fragments of sound, more the craft than the art of music. The clandestine, binaural recordings seem to be unedited and unprocessed, giving us a document of the chaos in the concert hall during intermissions. The “music,” and I think we must call it music, is closest to a Cage composition, his Europeras or Musicuses where professionally played musical fragments or quotations are chaotically mixed for a live audience, where, in the case of the Musicuses, they are free to move about (the Europeras were meant to be performed in opera houses, presumable with a traditionally seated audience). As Cage never specified what pieces were to be played, outside of broad restrictions of genre, opera or “Irish Music,” e.g., DeLaurenti can’t very well choose what he records. What would sound better, the collage of musical warmups and audience chatter before a Stravinsky piece, or the warmups and chatter before a Beethoven piece? Would there be a certain similarity, as musicians probably use similar exercises in every warmup, and people are prone to yack away at the same topics every day? Now we have some data points for these musicological problems.
Is this music and not sociological research (perhaps questions asked about DeLaurenti’s previous 3 CDs which were location recordings of various Leftist protests against the World Trade Organization and Republican Party in Seattle and New York)? One can easily imagine someone -- Kagel comes to mind -- writing a piece for orchestra which perfectly mimics the sound of a concert intermission. Are DeLaurenti’s recordings not music because they are not intended to be music? Doesn’t DeLaurenti intend for them to be music?
There are some nice musical moments, the weaving of woodwind melodies, the same melody played out of sync, in “SF Variations,” or at least it is nice before someone starts playing “Oh! Suzanna!” This I would expect from someone trying to sabotage a Cage performance. In “Before Petrushka,” there is an interesting layering of repeated cells of notes, presumably elements of the Stravinsky score, and to my ear, probably more interesting than Stravinsky, and I doubt it is worth my time to dig out my copy of it to compare. A kettledrum and chimes have a duet of mismatched rhythms in “Holst, Hitherto.” The record is surprisingly worth listening to as a piece of music, if you like listening to the sounds of an orchestra and if you will not be offended by the misuse of the score. The record almost sounds like a zoo or gallery of musicians, each on display in recreations of their natural environments, people milling about, casually observing the objets d’art, chatting at a day in the park. Hark! The jackalope-eared oboist comes out of its cage!
 
An interview with DeLaurenti can be found on Dead Angel.

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Contact:

Josh Ronsen
joshronsen (ate) yahoo (dote) com
2001 Brentwood
Austin, Texas 78757 USA