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Doing it wrong? How Looney Tunes ruined classical music (for me) [May. 28th, 2014|01:47 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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(Young Geoffrey attended an orchestral concert;

Image: Philharmonim Mundi, May 18, 2013. Photo by the Phantom Photographer

(And you won't believe what he did there!)

So, I went Montreal the weekend before last. Yes, I drove, but for a change it wasn't work-related. Raven was my passenger, my sweety, instead of yet another flight crew.

We had gone to see a concert, the Philmarmonium Mundi de Montréal's spring production, held at the Salle de concert Oscar Peterson at Concordia University on the West Island of Montreal. The show featured work by Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, as well as a short, original composition by a local, Quebecois, composer.

I'm no connoisseur of classical music and I don't think I've been to a classical concert since my mother took my brother and I to see the Soviet Red Army Orchestra at the Sudbury Arena back when I was still in grade school. Yes, when I was in my teens and early 20s, I made some effort to enlighten myself. Beethoven's 9th Symphony was probably the gateway drug — what teenager could hear that fourth movement and not be transported by the sheer passion in the old maestro's notes? A little Ravel, some Tchaikovsky, and for a while I tried to convince myself that I heard something special in Glen Gould.

But the truth is, most of it went over my head or, at least, didn't much move me. And so I'm not going to start reviewing a classical concert now. I'll just say that, to my under-educated ear, Philharmonium Mundi sounded fine (and the young piano soloist, Jean-Michel Dubé, was a delight, clearly taking great joy in his craft).

But why, you might ask, did Raven and I journey to Montreal to take in a concert in the first place? And why a high-end amateur orchestra's concert?

Image: Marcel Chojnacki plays with Philharmonium Mundi, May 18, 2014. Photo by the Phantom Photographer.  
Marcel Chojnacki  

Plainly-put: family. My favourite uncle, one Marcel Chojnacki, has been a First Violinist with the orchestra for a couple or more years now and I've wanted to see him play for a while. This year, we had enough warning, time and cash on hand, so I booked a car and off we went.

Uncle Marcel is a remarkable man, frankly an inspiring figure, as well as someone I, as an adult, especially, have come to like an awful lot. A Holocaust survivor (see link above) who came to Canada in his mid-teens after the War, he danced with the National Ballet, was a high-school teacher and, now, still teaches ballet, practices Flamenco with a troupe and, yes, plays violin (an instrument he started playing in his 60s) with an orchestra. He is a husband and father and also paints, makes wine, bakes bread and is a consummate and generous host.

I could go on, and on, but this isn't supposed to be about Marcel, it's supposed to be about me, and how I embarrassed Raven at the concert itself.

The show started with Rimsky-Korsakov's Overture de la Grande Pâque Russe, continued with Tchaikovsky's Concerto pour piano No. 1 en si bémol mineu (yes, folks, everything was in French), the aforementioned piano solo by Dubé, and then Sibelius' Symphonie No. 1 en mi mineur.

 
 
Nothing to do with Tchaikovsky, but don't tell me Chuck Jones didn't know funny!
 

As I've said, everything seemed well-played to me, but the Rimsky-Korsakov and the Sibelius left me pretty un-moved; a fort-night after the fact, I can't say much at all about either. As I said, I'm no connoisseur. But the Tchaikovsky ...?

I dunno, maybe I'm a rube, or maybe I've just been ruined by Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies, the piano concerto delighted me! I didn't cry, but I surely did laugh (much to Raven's consternation). I tried to my chuckles quiet (and, I think, mostly succeeded), but chuckle I did.

That is a pretty damned playful piece of music, with arch piano runs chasing each other one way and then the other. No wonder they used them for cartoons! And I feel certain that Tchaikovsky himself meant them to share joy, to amuse. And maybe, to make people laugh.

I know it made me laugh, no at the music but (I think; I hope!) with it.

I dunno. What do you think? Am I a musical peasant, laughing at what I don't understand, or did I actually get the joke? Any aficionados (or otherwise) want to chime in and either correct me or join in with my boorish appreciation?

This entry was originally posted at http://ed-rex.dreamwidth.org/261526.html. Comment there using OpenID, or here as per normal.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jade_noir
2014-05-29 10:45 am (UTC)
Wow what an inspiring Uncle. I don't have words for how it must have been for him as a child to lose most of his family.
It's beautiful that he's playing the violin with the orchestra even though starting at 60. Inspiring.

Classical music wasn't always observed in silence like it is today. It was cheered at, people were hectic, There was dancing, there was people walking out of the house. Everything. Tchaikovsky is a very humorous composer and I don't see anything wrong with laughing during a performance.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2014-05-30 12:07 am (UTC)

Uncles and music

I seem to have a life replete with inspiring old folks (and as I hurtle down the highway of life, I hope I manage to be the same, sooner than I like to imagine!).

And I appreciate your reassurance vis-a-vis my laughter at the concert (since I know you have some significant grounding in the field). Because I don't know much about the classics, I'm less secure in my own reactions than I am when, first instance, Bobby D cracks wise.

Edited at 2014-05-30 12:08 am (UTC)
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