ELECTION NIGHT EVENT with BERLIN PHILHARMONIC MEMBERS
led by Marie-Pierre Langlamet, Principal harp
Andreas Buschatz, Concertmaster
Mathieu Dufour, Principal flute
Matthew McDonald, Principal bass
Cornelia Gartemann, violin
Julia Gartemann, viola
Moky Gibson-Lane, cello
plus Emma Tahmizian and Eric Moe, pianists
Tuesday Nov 8th, 2016 8:00pm New York, New York
DiMenna Center, Cary Hall
Orchard Circle's initial concert was part prayer for electoral sanity, part exploration of a deeply troubled moment.
A group of players from the Berlin Philharmonic - led by their harp soloist Marie-Pierre Langlamet, and including their Concertmaster, Principal flute, Principal bass and several members of Concertmaster Stabrawa's ensemble - addressed ‘Weimar America', in a program that included a broad mix of American composers, gravitating towards its aesthetic center: Ned Rorem, John Harbison, Fred Lerdahl, John Corigliano, Phillip Glass, Milton Babbitt, Lowell Liebermann, Augusta Read Thomas, Laura Schwendinger, Roger Sessions, Daniel Brewbaker, Virgil Thompson, Eric Moe, Charles Wuorinen, Sebastian Currier, and Nathan Currier.
Confronting the bizarre irreality of a Trump administration, there is naturally discussion of 'refusing fascism.' The Berlin Philharmonic was unique in having been among the primary cultural exports of the Nazis during WWII. It was then called the 'The Reich's Orchestra' (Das Reichsorchester), under direct control of the infamous Joseph Goebbels. Today, of course, it is quite the opposite: a particularly young, dynamic, autonomous and musically mature group of musicians.
The program opened with three 'viewpoints' from Ned Rorem’s The United States: Seven Viewpoints. The core of the concert was a set of waltzes, The Fall of the House: Waltzing through Weimar America. Edgar Allen Poe's music-infused depiction of decrepitude, The Fall of the House of Usher - perhaps the first place where the waltz became symbolic of decay - describes Usher playing wild improvisations on his guitar, in particular “a singular perversion and amplification of the wild air of the last waltz of von Weber.” The Fall of the House begins with this same last waltz played on harp and piano. From there it 'perverts and amplifies' the idea of the waltz in its own way, evolving as a continuous, symbiotic 'variations on a concept', ranging from the 1970s to music composed in 2016, with a major subset being Fred Lerdahl's Waltzes for a quartet of violin, viola, cello, and bass.