Attended lecture on New York tenement life yesterday at the Library of Congress and piano concert today at Epiphany Church. Didn’t like either very much. If I were really a critic, I would have more to say.
OK, I guess I can’t leave it just like that. I just won’t name names.
The speaker’s topic yesterday was to be a discussion of tenement life and early American-Jewish literature. Somehow, the second half of the topic was never broached in the presentation, which the speaker read without lifting his head to the audience, and what he read was his memories of growing up in the lower east side of New York City in the 30s and 40s – his father’s candy stand, the people who sold old clothes and pushed push carts, and so forth. Nothing at all that you haven’t heard tens of times before. When (not surprisingly) no one had any questions at the end, he said “well, that’s good, because I have a plane to catch”. Hope he made it.
Today at Epiphany, there was a solo piano concert…….sort of. The young musician, who to me specialized in speed over tonal quality, thought it was important to explain (in a voice that could not really be heard or understood well) each piece in great detail before and after playing it – there was more talking time than playing time. He did play one Bach Invention, one Chopin nocturne and one Shostakovich fugure. But he also played two of his own “compositions” – starting the program with a variation on the Star Spangled Banner (sit or stand?), and ending it with a variation on Happy Birthday. ‘Nuf said?
And I’d have to add the Polish shorts program at the National Gallery – except for Andrzej Baranski’s “Winding Paths”, which I enjoyed a lot. The others? How do you say “awful” in Polish?