Friday, July 27, 2007

The Exuberant Style

I'll admit it: I listened to the live broadcast of Das Rheingold; it's the Wagner opera closest to space opera and I'm still waiting for the production that renders it more like a Roger Rabbit cartoon than a LDS temple film (i.e. Cecil B. DeMille without the budget) or Battleship Earth. I'm still waiting.

But there was a surprise benefit to staying online with Bayern 4: the next broadcast is (it's still playing right now) Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie (which has some real connections to Wagner of its own, the love theme connects to Tristan and the orchestration at times to the giant music in Rheingold, without which space opera would never exist). Listening to the Symphonie for the first time in years, it occurs to me that there is an example of might be called an exuberant style of orchestral writing, shared with a band of otherwise oddfellows such as Bernard Hermann, Henry Brant, Claude Vivier, and Magnus Lindberg. Aside from the fact that all of these composers are especially skilled in making scores that can be efficiently rehearsed -- an eminently practical impulse in an environment otherwise filled with abundance -- I don't have any thoughts more profound than that to add. But this: Exuberance makes me nervous.

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