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August 2009

Mostly (Not) Mozart


Ok, I may not be the world's biggest Mozart fan, but I am a big believer in Truth in advertising. So, what's up with this year's Mostly Mozart? I did the math: less than 30% of the works on this year's program were composed by the Amadeus. Last week, it was Aimard splicing Mozart with Haydn, Stockhausen and Ligeti; since then, they've barely bothered with Mozart at all, giving things over to Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, and "Composer-in-Residence" John Adams, who was in town to conduct his 2007 opera A Flowering Tree. Festival director Jane Moss started this composer-in-residence thing two years ago with Osvaldo Golijov; last year, it was Kaija Saariaho. Uh...sorry, Jane. I thought you already had a composer-in-residence?

It seems that Lincoln Center has come to realize that a 21st century festival dedicated to an 18th century composer - no matter how "genius" - is box office poison. Fine. Change the name. Need some suggestions? How about: "Mozart In Context"? Or: "Mozart and his Progeny"? Ok, maybe not... But, you get the idea.  

At least Adams, who was back on the podium last night to conduct ICE in three of his chamber work, likes Mozart, claiming that he's inspired by the elder composer's example, if not his music. And, while noone will mistake the relentless sawing of Shaker Loops or Gnarly Buttons' constant jumping for Mozart's Epsom bath of sound, Adams did at least hint at a connection in his program note: 

"He was an artist who cared deeply about the give-and-take with his listeners, wanting to delight them just as he wanted to provoke them and arouse their innermost feelings."

Anyone who's witnessed the brutal onslaught of Doctor Atomic, or the quiet beauty of China Gates, or the overwhelming power of Harmonielehre pretty much knows what he's talking about.

Still, change the name. (More pics below.)DSC08773

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Summer Styling

DSC08723 I didn't make it to the Williamsburg waterfront in time to catch DD/MM/YYYY yesterday afternoon, but still had fun wandering the surprisingly sparse crowd while listening to the hip hop stylings of DJ Prince Paul and Del the Funk Homosapien. (I was less impressed with the sloppy mess known as Gravy Train!!!!) But, as usual, the real styling was out in the audience. I swear, I've never seen so much ink. (More pics below.)

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Park Animals


Animal Collective closed out the Celebrate Brooklyn season last night with a killer two-hour set that included most of the tracks from their new album, Merriwether Post Pavilion, along with older tunes and some electronic improv. Their music is basically experimental, layering in African rhythms over multi-track electronics and Panda Bear's soaring vocals. But, they have also have an infectious pop sensibility that had the crowd singing and dancing along throughout - even to the tricky meters in "My Girls." Packing the Prospect Park Bandshell on two consecutive nights, it felt like the start of something big.  (More pics below.)

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Warm Up 2009


Yesterday was clear, warm, and the perfect day to visit to P.S. 1's weekly summer dance party Warm Up, which offers DJ's and dancing in the old public school courtyard - and installation art indoors. Warm Up, now in its 10th year, has established itself as the go-to spot for the non-Hamptons set, with a warm, sunny vibe similar to other outdoor weeklies like Montreal's Piknic Electronik (without the Calder.)

Kicking off things yesterday was an hour-long set by Todd P stalwarts Growing: a three-piece that lives in drone-land, courtesy of guitars, keyboards, and live electronics. With only a handful of early arrivals in the courtyard, their sound approached MBV volume, if lacking the elder band's texture and complexity. (They headlined a second show last night at LPR.)

It was a surprisingly seamless transition to House of Stank's DJ set, which got the crowd up and moving with bass-heavy house and techno. Late in the set, the crowd went nuts for a mash-up of Beethoven's 5th, full of pounding bass and soaring crescendos that made the disco classic "A Fifth of Beethoven" sound like weak tea. I don't spend much time at DJ things these days, but makes you wonder what else the kids are grooving to these days. (More pics below.) DSC08609

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