My father saw Ainadamar this summer, and, well, he didn’t love it. He certainly wasn’t alone; a piece like that is bound to get mixed reviews. I do not fault him in any way, but I think he was afraid to tell me he didn’t like it! It can be hard to tell someone that you’re just not that into something they love (and I do love this piece). But music is subjuctive, and I am comfortable with that.
It stands to reason, then, that he was nervous about La Pasion. He and Mom are planning to come to the London performance, using it as an excuse to finally get back to Germany (where we lived for three years and where they still have good friends). I know it is a father’s job to come to a child’s performances and clap and be proud, whether he likes it or not, but it is much more enjoyable for all involved when he does like it! So imagine his relief when he (finally) listened to the CD of La Pasion that I leant him this summer – and loved it! He liked the Latin musical influences, and appreciated the folk song elements. Here’s what he had to say about that: I found the use of folk themes appropriate, as I know JSB was influenced by German folk music - it's just that we have heard it played by 60-piece orchestras so long that we call it classical. How cool is that!! My dad, the musicologist. I love it.
(La Pasion segun San Marcos was commissioned by the International Bach Academy in Stuttgart to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of Bach’s death. Four composers – Osvaldo, Tan Dun, Wolfgang Rihm, and Sofia Gubaidulina – were each commissioned to write a “passion,” a musical setting of the story of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion. I’ve only heard Osvaldo’s, but imagine it was a fascinating series of concerts, hearing the way these four people interpreted this ancient story.)
I’m heading off to Atlanta this weekend for three performances and a recording of Ainadamar, so I thought I’d collect a few “Osvaldo links” and post them here. If you don’t have plans to see any of the (many) performances of his works around the country, maybe this will inspire you. There is some great music being created. Dive in!
Alex Ross’s article and review of La Pasion, March 2001
A fun account of the West Coast premiere of La Pasion in 2002 from the perspective of one of the string players. I think this gives a bit of insight into what I can expect in February! “Both the Orquesta La Pasión and the Schola Cantorum de Caracas are fantastic, and the difference between them and the stuffy classical musicians (us) is really marked. I'm not saying that one is better than the othe: it's just interesting to watch.” And this: “I feel alive. I haven't felt such energy in a very long time.” How exciting…
Ionarts review of Ainadamar at Santa Fe (see the sidebar for more reviews, including articles from The New Yorker and the Washington Post.)
Review of Osvaldo’s newest (?) work, Ayre, performed in San Francisco by Dawn Upshaw and the Andalusian Dogs on October 23rd. I really want to sing this piece someday…
Interview with Osvaldo on The World radio program, focusing on Ayre.
And, of course, check out Osvaldo’s own site for articles and reviews of all these works.