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Babbitt: Concerto For Piano And Orchestra/The Head Of The Bed
Milton Babbitt, Anthony Korf, Charles Wuorinen
Babbitt: Concerto For Piano And Orchestra/The Head Of The Bed
Genres: Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (2) - Disc #1


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Between Scylla and Charybdis
Wayne A. | Belfast, Northern Ireland | 10/26/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The lousy review below is actually damn funny, but in a black humor way I'm sure the author never intended. Please check out his other reviews--they're all of Milton Babbitt recordings and he actually mentions Spengler, of all people. I notice it's getting hip among the kids again to mention Spengler. Instead he should bring up Gibbon; it's the failure to stay with and appreciate developments in meaningful artistic complexity and expression (as opposed to pseudo-complex Hippie-art, clutter, for example) that, to a degree, lead to civilizations eroding away. Seventy years ago Schoenberg sounded crazy, now far less so and frankly (dear ghost of Arnold) I do whistle his tunes now and then, especially that great one from the Opus 43b Theme and Variations. If we move along in any sense (and I've my doubts these days), in seventy years Babbitt and Carter will be as easy as R. Strauss (well, at least as understandable--Strauss ain't easy!). I'm kidding of course, but it should be at least entertaining to a lot of folks. Should, but won't. Seventy years from now we'll be lucky if we're banging on logs and playing polo with goat entrails and congratulating ourselves on our genius.

The "good" review above is even funnier, damn hysterical even, and also in a way the author certainly never intended. Music like this is tough enough but a musical person will find their way through it...eventually. Have faith. Byzantine chatter like that above ("excoriated'? "ex cathedra"?! Even Mencken--80 years ago!-- had sense to only use an expression like that with considerable irony as any educated individual in these dopey modern times should!) is one of the several things that drove progressive art music right out range of our cultural radars and straight into the remaindered bins. Look how well, say, Artforum magazine managed to destroy the art world by burying it beneath an avalanche of post-modern and social-critical hooey. Anyone who would read through the precious and arcane appraisal dangling there over our heads, and who would agree with it, is already in Babbitt's camp! Anyone else will just moan and click through to a less pontificated-about work of musical art, or write stupid negative reviews mentioning Spengler. With that in mind, has anyone noticed how there's less and less appealing art (including literature) these days and more and more verbal blather about it all? It's as if no one knows how to be creative and all that's left is this ghost-like, bloodless, self-conscious critical stance. I'll take banging on logs any day to this, and we have.

The Head of the Bed?--it's fine--but I love this Piano Concerto. It's hard to convey why, it's actually kind of fun, like the Wourinen Piano Concerto, another modern fave. I could write for days about Babbitt's entertaining music without ever using the word dodecaphonic. Sorry, reviewer... and sorry, Milton. It's never really been a cool thing to claim that you don't care about your audience, especially when you know that can never be true.

[PS time has passed and I just reread the review above that I excoriated a bit and I've decided I was far too kind. I know it was written five years ago and so soon after 9/11 that maybe the reviewer just lost his grip on syntax and basic communication skills and such, yet still...]"
Haunting, mystical music for the extremely open-minded
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD features one of Babbitt's more 'accessible' pieces-- the Head of the Bed, with a fascinating dream-like text by John Hollander and a wonderful mood-- and one of his most difficult, the Piano Concerto, which is a tough go for even his most ardent admirers. But if you listen to the latter around fifty times, there comes a moment when it all starts making sense, and you think wow-- this is some of the most beautiful music ever written! Happy the soul that makes this most unique of musical discoveries."
Close-mindedness = willfull ignorance
bob north | Elberta, Al U.S.A. | 01/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I know I'm not gonna change anyones minds by this. I just think it's a little sad that some people can be so judgemental about music they don't understand. This music is not "sick". It's just difficult. And why would anyone think Reich is "disqusting" just because he's not an "avant garde" comnposer? I listen to everything from Bach and Bartok, to Monk and Jimi Hendrix, To Tool and Pantera, Not because I think it's "cool" that I listen to this stuff, but because I enjoy it. Music is music. And it can only expand your mind if your mind it not closed to begin with."