London: "Starry Nights, Doggy Days"
Schoenberg: Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21
It is that time of the year again, when promising youngsters from the finest music schools in the country converge to the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center to showcase their budding talents during the first week of March as part of the "Conservatory Project". I have missed the first three concerts, but I am determined to catch up as the clock keeps on ticking. Thursday evening the young musicians were coming for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and presented a decided contemporary program.
The ethereal sounds of marimbas and vibraphones, so reminiscent of a delicate ballet of raindrops, are certainly rare and attractive enough to make them a welcome novelty, if not a transcendental experience.
Schoenberg's combination of spoken text and musical score inspired by Albert's Giraud's set of 21 (3 x 7) poems called Pierrot lunaire turned out to be quite an acquired taste as well. The atonality of the work and the outwardly nature of the narrative made it hard to connect to despite the best efforts of the obviously fully committed performers. We even thought we'd get an early reprieve as a cord of the cello broke and we had to skip two movements, in which the wounded instrument would have been necessary, to make it to the last one. But no such luck. Once all was sung and played, she came back and we got to hear the last three movements in full.