Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.
Fine Arts Section
Fine Arts Section
Brahms. Hungarian Dances. Nos. 1, 3, 5, 6, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.
Dvorak. Slavonic Rhapsody No.
3. Scherzo Capriccioso. Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/ Rafael Kubelik. H.M.V. Alp 1769.
This uninspiring disc contains little that has not at some late stage, been recorded before (and in better conditions). Brahms' Hungarian Dances suffer chiefly from a disinterested reading at the hands of Rafael Kubelik: there is no fire where needed (No. 1), little imagination, and no colourful phrasing (No. 6, etc.). Dvorak fares better, but this is still in the poor class. The Slavonic Rhapsody is characterised by sloppy playing from the strings, a confusion of sound in the coda, and some incongruous Royal oboe playing (viz. fine). In the Scherzo, the orchestra falls down badly through lack of weight—the otherwise brilliant concluding tutti is marred by an absence of depth from cellos and basses. On the whole, this is not to be recommended. See Ancerl, van Kempen, Sawallisch, et. al., for brighter Brahms and vimmier Dvorak. Recording is fair, but in no way as clear and clean as the Decca (below).
Mozart. Symphonies. Nos. 32 in G major, K.318; 38 in D major, "Prague", K.504.
London Symphony Orchestra/Peter Maag. Decca LXTM 5518.
There are few conductors, who have achieved fame both for themselves and the music, through the symphonies of Mozart: Beecham did, so does Peter Maag. His interpretation of the two works, the G major and the D major is nothing short of superlative; he is complemented in this by exquisite playing from England's finest orchestra. The 32nd is a short piece, written in the Italian tripartite overture style: it is delicately handled by Mr Maag, whose care in soothing out the piano, forte chords in the Tempo I, is extremely decisive. The "Prague", ignoring the old controversial question of what (in the work) has been repeated and what discarded, is also finely treated: Maag is able to contrast mood—Adagio with Allegro—at brief notice, to the utmost effect. The strings and the woodwind are throughout, very lovely, clear, and where needed, full and rich. Even the trumpets have a most unMozartian brassy quality. I am curious however, about some odd timpani noises in the opening Adagio (No. 38). Recording is clear, with little extraneous noise.
Jazz Club A.G.M.
With a typically friendly and relaxed atmosphere, the Jazz Club A.G.M. was held on May 1 in the Music Room at 2 p.m. A good sized group of new members was welcomed by the newly-elected president, Roy Murphy. Other officers for the coming year include G. Girvan (secretary-treasurer), A. Loney, B. Talbot, J. Robbins and G. Murphy (committee). In addition, G. Murphy, G. Kennington and M. Cutten were elected as honorary life members.
An outline of future activities includes a series of concerts, beginning with the Arts festival concert; Sunday afternoon "jam sessions" at the Studio Jazz Club (an affiliated club located in Manners Street); and talks at University by guest speakers—all of which should be of interest to many students still not actively associated with the club.
Brubeck. Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra. Dave Brubeck Quartet with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein. Maria, I Feel Pretty, Somewhere, A Quiet Girl, Tonight, played by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Coronet KLP 895, Mono.
Attempts at synthesizing jazz material and "classical" music have been made before, notably by Stravinsky, Ravel, Lambert, Milhaud, and Copland, on the one hand, and John Lewis, Teo Macero, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck on the other. The attempts of the classicists in the 'twenties usually consisted in throwing into the piece a few slurred notes, a bit of syncopation and odd noises from the percussion department. These compositions might have been interesting or important on their own account, but they certainly didn't have much jazz in them. More important has been the influence of jazz on the harmonic structure and rhythm used by contemporary composers.
Walter Damrosch made a boo-boo when he made his classic statement about Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, to the effect that "various composers have been walking around jazz like a cat around a plate of hot soup, waiting for it to cool off so they could enjoy it without burning their tongues, hitherto accustomed only to the more tepid liquid distilled by the cooks of the classical school. (Jazz has not been raised) to a level that would enable her to be received as a respectable member of the musical circles. George Gershwin seems to have accomplished this miracle." But Gershwin never claimed to have amalgamated jazz and symphony anyway. He was a tin pan alley composer and what he did was to utilise the pop song rather than jazz. That his Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto and American In Paris have so much vitality is due to his particular genius for melody and rhythm. Form is more or less non-existent.
I think there is a record in the domestic American catalogue of a Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra by Rolf Liebermann, played by the Sauter-Finigan Orchestra, with the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner. The music criticis wiped the floor with it. Similarly, Matyas Seiber has written a piece with the same format, more recently. Now Philips have issued a record of Howard Brubeck's Dialogue for Jazz Combo and Orchestra played by brother Dave's quartet and the New York Philharmonic Symphony under Bernstein.
Here the orchestra plays straight, while the quartet improvises at certain places. The work is in four movements labelled Allegro, Andante Ballad, Adagio Ballad, Allegro Blues, and the classical part of it is very poor indeed. Except for the odd solo passages, the New Yorkers are reduced to making various noises in the background, while the D.B.Q. rattles around out front. They sound pretty tired really, though the trumpets once or twice, tear off a couple of phrases which suggest they would really like to cut loose. Who said the New York Philharmonic doesn't swing? Whoever he was he was right. And on the evidence of this record, Dave Brubeck doesn't either. It may be that he has run out of ideas, but much of his playing consists of repeated hammering at the same chords or meandering up and down the keyboard—"pling-pling jazz." Paul Desmond is the only musician who stands out at all. He blows some nice sounds and shows that he is a good reliable boy, even if he isn't particularly adventurous.
The reverse consists of tunes from Bernstein's West Side Story and one from Wonderful Town. These are interesting enough in a paltry and conventional way, but are not likely to send anyone into raptures. The recording is adequate, but not top class—I suspect difficulties in trying to balance the quartet against the larger mass of the orchestra. Surfaces are quiet.
The scores of Societies in the University, are generally known by students, and in general, appreciated. It is not so true of Clubs and groups outside Vic. The student may be aware of their existence, but unfortunately, has no idea of what they do, where they meet, and so on. Two Societies that would be of benefit to students, are the Wellington Recorded Music Society and the Wellington Film Society. The former, as is obvious, is concerned with the enjoyment of recorded music. It offers monthly meetings, free monthly Bulletin, advice on records and equipment, a members' record exchange, and etc. The Society can be highly recommended to everyone interested in discs. The programmes offered are varied and cover a wide field. Often, guest speakers are invited along; at a recent meeting, two members of our National Orchestra talked and discussed, with excellent recommendation. If you are interested in joining, or wish to pop along for an evening, either contact the Fine Arts Editor, or write P.O. Box 5086, Wellington. The Wellington Film Society has started its monthly Sunday screenings, with Bachelor Party and Killer's Kiss as the first run. There will be three more screenings this year, and programmes, reduced subscription or nightly tickets, may be had from the Fine Arts Editor. Next month the screening will consist of Little World of Don Camillo and The Captain's Paradise: remember—reductions for students.
Bearded, pipe-smoking, publicity-seeking (on his own admission) law student Roger Chapman became news recently when he won the North Island Chess Championship at Wanganui. Local pundits were amazed to learn that he had beaten several nationally-ranked players, including ex-New Zealand and North Island champ. Rodney Philips; but Mr Chapman himself, with characteristic modesty, merely commented: "How can I help it if I'm a genius." He appeared page 7 ill at ease when It was alleged that, he had, in fact, won almost every game by blowing pipe smoke over the board, thus obscuring completely both board and pieces from view, and asphyxiating his opponent, but he denied In any case that this was a form of gamesmanship. In his capacity as President of the V.U.W. Chess Club, he answered a query about his previous career (in chess of course), by saying that the best move he ever made was when he went to . . . (censored). Though admitting that his excellent technique was due mainly to his grasp of strategy and tactics, he indignantly repudiated the suggestion that his feeling for positional play had been acquired during a training session with the famous French grandmaster Bardot. He affirmed: "Like all true artists, I am alone responsible for what I produce." We agree. He said, however, that his study had enabled him to penetrate deeply into the subtleties of openings.