June 24, 2009

Für kommende Zeiten

Last night [conductor Frederik Prausnitz] brought his ensemble to Philharmonic Hall in a 20th-century program, ending with a work by Karlheinz Stockhausen that sent a fair share of the audience scurrying out of the auditorium.

This was the "Gruppen" ("Groups") for three orchestra, composed in 1957 but not previously played in New York.... The work is an elaborate 25-minute assemblage of sounds, produced by the three ensembles as distinct entities yet carefully meshed by the composer. The performance, which seemed to go smoothly and was played by brilliantly gifted instrumentalists, did not work out too well.

Crowded together on the stage, the ensembles, totaling more than 100 players, could not assert their individuality. Except for an occasional tossing back and forth of a particular sonority and for the wide spread of the percussion instruments, the performance might have come from a single group as far as the acoustics were concerned.

—R.E., "Prausnitz Returns," The New York Times, March 15, 1965

ALBANY — New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday. It had two.
Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.
Despite the condemnation from the governor, newspaper editorialists and civic groups, senators of both parties seemed strikingly unworried about, or perhaps insulated from, public anger over the events. Several said that they have noticed only a slightly more-than-average volume of calls coming into their district offices lately, and that only a small percentage of the calls were negative.

And some members seemed to almost enjoy the chaos, calling it memorable and recording it for posterity.
Turning to a reporter, [Republican Senator George H. Winner Jr.] said, “We’re never going to see this one again.”

—Danny Hakim, "Come to Order! Not a Chance, if It’s Albany," The New York Times, June 24, 2009

Sen. Winner unwittingly knows from whence he speaks: Prausnitz's effort with the New England Conservatory Symphony Orchestra remains, to this day, the one and only New York performance of Gruppen.

1 comment:

Elaine Fine said...

For the record, Frederik Prausnitz was a terrific conductor. I never played any contemporary music with him, but playing Mozart with him was perhaps the singular best orchestral experience I had when I was a student at Juilliard.