i went to the oregon symphony last night, for the first time this season, i’m ashamed to say. i think it may have been the night to go, though, if i were to choose one.
i’ve been reading some fairly depressing material lately: a book called “Endgame” by Derrick Jensen, which is a fairly developed explanation of civilization’s shortcomings, transgressions and egregious impingements upon Nature. which led me to read the manifesto of theodore kazcynski, which i think he called “Industrial Society and Its Future”–later named manifesto for obvious reasons. these two works are curiously similar, but i will not go into depth now. i have a somewhat mild polemic for both these works (and all things like them) which i’ll save for another posting. i mean only to say that i’ve been getting a lot of rationale for why civilization should not exist…
and last night, seated before the wind of that orchestra, i remembered FULLY why i like civilization so much. they played Rachmaninov’s symphonic dances, which i had not heard before… they have a full visual thematic continuity, as though the sound created is the texture of imagination itself: i felt like i could SEE what he was visualizing, which went from a gloomy night of rain and close quarters indoors to a grand stroll through a field of wildflowers in spring, led by a woman taking you out to make love somewhere soft (reverse genders there if you’re a woman). i realized that in that act of creation, composer seeing vertically upon the blank page, and dropping the plume through the voices of his music, that there is much more in that origin, than in the genesis of a human being… or at least in the average furtive conception, and being witness to that synaesthetic texture of music and vision, an audience member gets to see inside the most powerful act of creation since the violence and thunder of the First Act.
the headliner of the show was a pianista called, Valentina Lisista (link:valentinalisista.com) … who performed Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto. she was filling in for some other pianist who was absent due to some family sickness and, though she was incredible, i imagined she would have preferred to perform something of a little more moment. that concerto has some exquisite phrases in it, but does not bring you to the kind of climax you might like. she did, however, play two encores because of an uproarious geriatric crowd there last night. (i have never seen more than one encore at the arlene schnitzer concert hall, in classical music context, i think because often the crowd is out past its bedtime). the first was one of Brahms’ variations on a theme of paganini, a ripping piece of music, only for the most honed of performers, totally virtuostic and savage. i noticed that she is that kind of artist who, in the words of my uncle, DOES NOT FUCK UP. technically she would not slip anyway. so that is how good she is as a technician. but one encounters the greater danger in letting the mood and import of the music itself overcome… being able to “contain” the music stretches far beyond the ability to play it, i think. and she is that kind of artist who begins to move her body differently the more passionate the music, its great swings of expression made more voluminous through the physicality of the performer: and ms. lisista did just that, her frame, her arms and head radiating everything the composer meant, not in a way where she is aware of what she’s doing, but simply voicing the intention of the composer, long dead… this classical act of creation being re-born for the instant of the performance and raw and visible for US.
and, for my part, if it is a choice between an eternity in nature, forraging and hunting, and but a moment in this civilization that produces things like last night (destined to burn), i say let it burn.
but there is more than that.