Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Tonight I listened to the Stravinsky Ragtime for the first time in 20 years, and for some reason cracked up laughing for most of it: that dour, sour, dissonant cimbalom and complaining clarinet and doomy percussion reminded me of someone striding along with his head down, someone who has given up, and for some reason I found it hilariously funny.
Then I kept thinking: this piece reminds me of something. Or someone. I've been reading up on Bernstein again, an old hero/obsession, and wondering anew why he wasn't considered a "significant" composer (or significant enough) because he "only wrote for musical theatre" (not true anyway). But this wild and wacky version of Wrong Note Rag, the best I have ever seen/heard, flashed into my head, and it was only when I posted the video that I realized that OF COURSE the two pieces had a spiritual kinship: both were slightly crazed, off-kilter experiments in ragtime. In Stravinsky's case a rag with a wooden leg, and in Bernstein's, a rag breathing flaming helium.