Wednesday 25 October 2023

Uh, nuh!

There was rain.
A steady drip down Leipziger to P'damer Str: a stretch done dirty down to a degradation of an already desperately needed haven from the bog potential ((that) I can say I'm glad is no longer my weekly cycle). I even did what I normally wouldn't, which is ride on the covered walk of the shopping strip and subsequent hotel, which kept me out of the drizzle a while.

I'd read in the paper long enough ago that this segment was to be a cyclist's dream. As it is, the previous marks, heat-sealed into the pavement, have another stripe across them, which doesn't mean "no bikes allowed" so much as "ride at your own risk".
P'damer Plz is the least laudable yet most appropriate symbol of die Wende, being, as it is, literally, a transition from the dick-swinging sectors parcelled out to would-be protectors of freedom, with their freshly defeated fascists in the fold, armed muzzle-to-muzzle opposite would-be arbiters of collective emancipation from the same. Authorities reign over all parades. As it connects to those armed to protect and those armed to resist and those armed to overcome and those armed to come over, only they justify themselves, nourishing each other and no one else, which seems fitting to the news of the day.
Anyway, as a metaphor for ever-swelling pots of piss, P'damer takes the cup. And there was rain.
Tho' none on this parade: Gock's (generous gift) giving a ship in the midst of the mist: two ticks to Eno at the house of the philharmonic, worthy of its color & in contrast to too much surrounding it (and built at the same time as the Wall).
Gock couldn't make the trip and I couldn't blame him. On behalf of his forgone half came K8 none too late. To her level of concern that her unfamiliarity 'd amount to an unworthiness of attendance, my assurance was it's nearly exclusively the stuff from the century past I'd made intimate acquaintance with: We were in the same boat if not the same harbor.

After Viet rice and noodles and a vape too deep (ye don't get off, unless ye cough), we ventured over and into the venue, about which I can say the following: outer doors at 8 and inner admittance at 8:30 is not entirely unlike the feeling of being schlepped from lock to lock at the airport (tracking moments too minutely (in this case, w/ thc (s)talking); maybe Ambien I woulda worked).

Once relaxed into the space, I observed what could be called Music for Concert Halls, as the pre-performance music accommodated this: a ship's bottle being slowly but surely filled with conversing characters who, each in their own fashion fit the part cast by their composer (who for his part rewarded recognition of all of this without demanding it;-). While the piece (or pieces) were full of familiar vocabulary, collectively none of it was identifiable as a previously known title. I think the point I want to make is they were not, as I would otherwise worry, substandard versions of what preceded them, but rather exemplary of an oeuvre and the essentials of one guy's self-defined genre. Derived without being derivative in the pejorative sense. And for all I know it was created for this purpose.
Houselights down, the woodwinds and strings entered first, literally, as they sort of wandered on while establishing the waves upon which the Ship would be set. And so it began, auspiciously (with the title track of the concert's namesake, followed by its three roman numbered companions): during this section, apprehension abated, disquiet dissolved, and this combo's potential shined, culminating in its swoon (or maybe the bombast).
It's a challenge of wordsmithing to convey how the players reproduced the aforementioned genre: they gave a shape to a one-time fantasy of mine that an orchestra could just warm up for several hours: the gradual formation of harmonic narrative left that idea in its wake, but with the wake remaining contiguous to the periphery of the performance of the wake itself, it never strayed entirely out of the scope of the audient.
The point I failed to make in the previous paragraph is that the character of the sound was true to that which was to be recreated, down to its subtlest. That is, it came off as original, orchestrated but un-orchestral.
(I am reminded here of the service done by the Metropole Orkest to Fripp's The Wine of Silence, but with a greater degree of difficulty in consideration of the variance of texture involved.)
I have to mention one of the best aspects being the fade to silences being uninterrupted by the slightest peep from the house. Then, an eruption of enthusiasm. Each time except one, where, appropriately, the transition between pieces flowed unbroken except by the silence.
Of course the Baltic Sea Philharmonic has a conductor. One can be forgiven for feeling too much shine from such a presence. What is a maestro but a knob, after all. Yet despite my traditional dilettante's doubting their necessity, I cannot believe (in this instance) that the swelling & shrinking and fading in & out of each other could have been accomplished as effectively devoid of direction from somewhere. The best bands break up without it keeping the egos in check; individual instrumentalists move on to escape the hubris of the same (I think I glimpsed a smirk or three among the blowers and strokers, but there were smiles, too). All in all, I found it easy enough to focus my attention away from the demonstrative dirigent dirigenting (which K8n't be said of everyone;-)
The Ship was followed by something the players created that sounded familiar. Was it from On Land, or was it another exemplary combination of chirping & croaking to remind us of it? (Later in response to one of Mr Conductor Man's between-song chatterings, this time about the coming piece's featuring birdsong, Eno humorously self-deprecated that everything he's ever done does.)
Anyway, the previous fed into "By this River", with the harpist introducing Roedelius' part, and, as far as I could tell, a keyboard taking Moebius', and mallets filling out the former (percussion was in partial view at the back). This would be the sole representation of the twentieth century. Dating back to 1977, it puts twenty-eight years between itself and the nearest chronologically sourced part of the rest of the set, which ranged between 2005 to today.
If you're a fan of the vocal melodies from ForeverAndEverNoMore, you won't find your way off of your cloud for a bit. The artist's voice was as could have been desired (tho' he remarked of a cold, which was only recognizable when he spoke or sang too softly to be heard anyway). His rendition of "I'm Set Free" really shone its own, and  along with "By this River" brought the other soloists out, and clustered waves of chamber-like activity in (like Music for Bridges), which made the returns really pay off.
Few as his live performances have been, this will serve as a landmark to its having been ventured and a testament to a career headed this way, as if it had embarked to get here.
Like, for me, the thing I said before about exemplary vocabulary as part of his genre, last night's experience has reestablished in my mind that this territory does in fact belong to him. That is, he didn't just take from others who've influenced a certain approach, and he didn't just result in those who continue to ape his influence, for good or ill, but he's established a lexicon with his name on it. It's easy to lose sight of that, and the stage was a perfect reminder.
Had the acoustics of this house been present at the Hammersmith, or had I been sitting in the best seat in the house, as here, I'd still be throwing away my pants.

Thanks to Gock for a birthday well spent.