<span>Conductor&nbsp;<span>Karina Canellakis</span></span>
Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Soluna Review: Hollywood Exile

Dallas Symphony’s ReMix series presents rarely heard music by 20th century composers exiled from Europe to Southern California.

published Saturday, May 9, 2015

Photo: Lauren Farmer
Conrad Tao
Photo: Masataka Suemitsu
Karina Canellakis

Dallas — In the famous series of conversations recorded in the 1960s between American composers John Cage and Morton Feldman, they discuss the presence of loud radios out on the beach. When Cage asked Feldman how he adjusted to the sensation, he replied, “Well, I thought of the sun and the sea as a lesser evil.” When measuring the dimensions and general features of a temporal experience, whether seen, heard, or felt in any other way, there is a certain amount of intrusion which is the experience. The absurdity of the contemporary absorption of art is that we are keen to process all aspects of cognition on the same channel in a synthesis of contrasting disturbances into a single stream. As expert multitaskers, we do everything with some sort of distraction or anxiety to which we adjust. But it is the purpose of music to strategically present experiential intrusions such as sand, water, sun, and radio in a way in which we cannot adjust.

Friday evening’s performance of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s ReMix series at the Dallas City Performance Hall, part of the Soluna: International Music & Arts Festival, presented an interesting mix of music by European composers who had found refuge as well as lucrative careers in southern California. The aesthetic sensibilities of the composers presented is that of concise statements of musical drama fit within a fairly limited structure which forces creative use of orchestration and rhetoric.

The first work, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s The Sea Hawk Overture is typically post-Romantic in its orchestration and proportions. With a lush and full opening, the hall was easily overpowered with sound. While this could be seen as preparing the ear for more sensitive contrasting material, the sound never changed. Although very balanced at the beginning, the drama of the work relies on the subtle shifts of balance. In this performance, the shifts were very subtle; the listener had adapted within the first couple minutes of the piece.

In speaking to the audience, DSO Assistant Conductor Karina Canellakis made a significant contribution to the music. Whetting our ears with sounds of a confident and articulate voice smoothed over the awkward and uncomfortable shifting of musicians between movements. However, referring to music of Arnold Schoenberg as “weird” in contrast to music that pleases did nothing to prepare the listener for anything except for generic curiosity at best. Her refusal to understand or at least enter the language of this music was made clear by the performance of Schoenberg’s Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene, Op. 34. Indeed, it sounded weird. Although pretty close to rhythmic accuracy, there was little attempt at shaping the gestural and harmonic drama of what should be very moving music. The piece was rendered motionless as a result of this; when the music is motionless, the audience is not.

The most successful music of the performance was that of the Hungarian-American composer Miklós Rózsa. A film by visual artist Pipilotti Rist accompanied the Andante for String Orchestra, Op 22A. The film helped further the autobiographical tone set by Canellakis’ story of the composer longing for his homeland while writing the piece. In the video projected behind the orchestra, nature and technology were presented at odds and destroying each other as though to suggest perhaps the loss of identity by committing to the changes of circumstance, either real (as moving to a new country) or imagined (altering one’s mind to please expectation). Even the constantly moving black border around the film vaguely resembled the shape of Hungary on occasion.

Pianist Conrad Tao joined those on stage for the Spellbound Concerto, an arrangement of material Rózsa composed for his only collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock. Again dramatic and romantic, the sound of the orchestra overwhelmed the piano. The lid of the instrument was removed which paid no complements to Tao’s aggressive style. Rather than directing sound to our ears, his playing was directed to the ceiling before reaching the back of the hall which made the piano sound like it was at the end of long, brick hallway or perhaps in the shower. Brilliant, but constant, the listener had again adapted to the playing quickly.

If the lighting design as well as the blue and red shoes and ties had an impact, it was that they were a welcome change from typical concert attire and a generic wash. But it came off as being directed rather than spontaneous; no purposeful message relating to the sonic events of the evening could be detected which neither added nor detracted from the experience. They were simply the radio on the beach. We adapted then moved on.


» We have a complete schedule in our Soluna Festival special section on TheaterJones. Look for features and previews during the Soluna Festival in our special section. For more information, such as ticket prices, visit Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Soluna Review: Hollywood Exile
Dallas Symphony’s ReMix series presents rarely heard music by 20th century composers exiled from Europe to Southern California.
by Zachariah Stoughton

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :