Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Round of Applause for Piotr and His Ball-Breaking Apparatus

No composer gets more of an unfair shake than Tchaikosky, and I being one of those lovers of unfairly maligned composers, have always greatly admired the man and his music. Whatever it's faults, they have been exaggerrated by a musical elite sick of sugar plum fairies, swans, and Van Cliburn pounded B-flat minor arpeggios that for many people encapsulate their miseducated idea of "classical" music.
The truth is the man was a superb orchestrator, a melodist unpar with much of Schubert and Mozart, a creator of powerful operas, fine symphonies and embarrassingly pretty ballets.

'Embarrassing' is a word I use with fondness, as Tchaikosky is really horribly pretty to a degree that simply is unacceptable for many of even the most intelligent listeners.
This morning I decided to listen to the complete Nutcracker, once and for all proving that the beast does not only attack in winter, and is quite effective on a sunny, 80 degree Minneapolis summer day.
All I will say is by god Tchaikovsky is good at what he does. He orchestrates impressively no matter what you think the kitsch level of the material, his sense of time and argumentative flow is surprisingly good for a nearly 2 hour children's ballet. There are lots of great pages of music here besides the famous suite: the strikingly modal and quiet jaunt for the "Arrival of Drosselmayer" in the less famous first act is paricularly memorable.

I like Tchaikovsky. He's a great composer. Not one of my favorites by a long shot, but still. Put down your lame aesthetic guns to shoot your fish in a barrel sentimentality and Romanticism and lay off the poor guy. He already killed himself once for you!

Dear Petey: you will always have a place here at Clownsilly manor (Come for the laughs, stay for the pie *tm).


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