Monday, March 21, 2016

Professional Music Critic

Oh, dear.  What's happened is, it takes a lot longer to write these thoughtful reviews than it does to dash off my usual flippancy. Therefore, March hasn't been super prolific.  Luckily, I went to a concert last night, which I will now review.  To prep for this work, I've listened to a podcast featuring a music critic and read a couple of reviews on music sites.  It's clear from this research that I have neither the content knowledge, nor the passion to effectively review the concert.  However, I won't let these barriers get in my way.

yMusic opened for José González at the Pantages Theater in downtown Minneapolis last night.  yMusic is a chamber ensemble, producing swirling atmospheric sound. Brass, winds, and strings meld and careen.  The back-lighting catches the loose bow strings of the cello and violins. Rhythm coalesces and then spirals out. One piece, "Music in Circles," echoed the sounds of an air conditioner (this was the actual, reported inspiration of the composer) and seemed also to incorporate sonic whooshes of a sneeze.  Later, I'm going to listen to this piece again.

I was expecting a rock concert, so the avant garde classical vibe really threw me for a loop, and I couldn't stop laughing.  This had nothing to do with the quality of the performance and everything to do with my own immaturity.

After a few pieces, González took the stage.  I dug his intricate, spider-webby acoustic riffs.  His voice is whispery and understated.  He sat stage right and as if by magic, yMusic reappeared after a few songs.  Together, the seven musicians mesmerized.  The flautist started singing.  The trumpet player swapped that instrument for a French horn.  A wind player interchanged an oboe for a sax for a clarinet.  It wasn't a rock concert, but it was really something.

Am I glad I went to the José González show?  100%.  Do I wish I were smarter about musical style and technique? 100%. Increased skillz would have increased enjoyment in this case, almost certainly.  And that's saying something because I did really enjoy it.


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