Tuesday, March 2, 2010

antonin dvorak | symphonies nos. 8 & 9

so speaks our friend in fanciness, docperkins:

Find hereby majestic renditions, in line with the grandiloquence of two representative pieces of the romantic repertoire. Grandiloquent implying positive and negative features that grandiloquence impinges upon art-forms, to which music is no exception. The orchestra is superb and Kubelik up to the crew skills. Along the same fruition highway (or you dared to imagine Dvorak would drop the highway concept on behalf of a ‘hand-made lane’?), our attention to conceptual detail is kindly invited out, on behalf of the quick-relief enjoyment provided by aptly crafted panache. The latter pays a heavy ransom to simplicity, but the latter is most of the times concealed, and when it turns up is always wearing a tux. (Nothing against musical simplicity and quick-relief trends in themselves, by the way.)

Antonín Dvorák, who went to USA in 1892 to teach at the National Conservatory, became a huge fan of so-called African-American spirituals, and nurtured the strongly appealing -- and impossible not to sympathise with -- agenda of sonic miscegenation. Professor Dvorak firmly believed that American music would only acquire a physiognomy of its own, and due relevance, if and when succeeded to methodically (as opposed to spontaneously, which is something to cheer for, given that ‘spontaneity’ in classical music leads to kitsch of the uninteresting type) infuse African-American material into European musical epistemes. Besides of the fact that at the end of the day the opposite occurred, as African-American composers assimilated European epistemes into blues and jazz, Professor Dvorák lack in form what he exceeded in potentially creative ideological content.

Furthermore, his “From The New World” largely shows that the non-western segments Dvorák, with utmost good intentions, correct intuition, and unintended patronising attitude, managed to insert into the symphony did not become organically articulated as components of the piece. At the most they were aural quotations, maybe ornaments transvestited of cultural sonic signposts. In this sense, one could excise these quotations and ornaments while the symphony would still exist and be on its feet after a couple of minor, minute cosmetic surgeries. This would never be conceivable in pieces where the real melting down of Western and non-Western sonic epistemes occur at the very structural level as an issue of form, and to unbelievable effect, as displayed in some of the works by, e.g., Feldman, Scelsi, Xenakis and Bartók.

Meanwhile, it appears that Dvorák’s Ninth, “From The New World”, will continue competing with Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” as most played ‘classical tune’ (whatever this means) in supermarkets, department stores, waiting rooms, and also in my study, where this fantastic floppish cultural agenda turned into ‘fancy music’ amuses me and makes me wonder how nice it would be if all failed pompous modern cultural projects were all destined to become unmissable, classy blockbusters. hear


  1. Great blog! I'm adding you to RL's blogroll.

  2. Although...I just tried to download this and the Richard Strauss album, and neither would work. The Dvorak gave me a 17 KB file, and the Strauss wouldn't even start downloading. Just an FYI.

  3. hmm, i just downloaded the strauss and it worked just fine. it is a flac file, if that makes any difference?

  4. Huh, all Megaupload downloads do not work for me in Firefox, but they do in IE. Weird. I wonder what changed.

  5. i had that problem a few months ago as well. i exclusively use chrome now and everything works perfectly.