Monday, April 20, 2009

Hawksley Workman, St. Matthew Passion, Death is Certain

I've loved Hawksley Workman's music for years. He's pretty eclectic and, frankly, his work is fairly uneven, but when it's good it's really good. So I was looking forward to seeing him perform live, particularly since he doesn't play in New York very often. As it happened, he was ill and the performance was pretty so-so, although the talky guy who got to go on stage and play guitar for one of the songs seemed thrilled. And I was tired enough that even if it had been an awesome concert I would have probably felt sort of blah about it. Fortunately it was at Joe's Pub and started at 7:00 then ended by 8:30-ish.

That was Wednesday and on Friday I went to BAM to see St. Matthew Passion (why no apostrophe in that title?). Which was a bit too much Jesus for me. I mean, I'm not stupid so obviously I knew it was about Jesus. But still. That's more religion than I've subjected myself to in quite some time. Which would have been fine, I think, if the guy singing the role of Jesus hadn't bored me so much. I know nothing about music and for all I know he's actually fantastic. But he just seemed kind of lumpen (his presence not his singing since, again, I certainly couldn't judge anyone's singing and wouldn't know what constitutes lumpen singing anyway). I did think the circular staging was neat and also liked that everyone was dressed casually. And I very much enjoyed the guy singing the Evangelist--Rufus Müller--probably at least in part because I could understand everything he was singing. What I really loved though, were the chorale parts. 

As a sidenote, I sat next to a very nice man who gave me a cough drop during the intermission (the two of us had a little two-person chorus of allergy-related sniffling during the first act) and chatted with me. Also, there was a guy on the subway Friday afternoon asking me about my e-reader (I have it for work) and then I ran into him at BAM as well. Which has nothing to do with anything but was kind of funny in a small world sort of way. 

Then on Saturday, wrapping up my happening week, I went to see Jack Ferver's Death is Certain at St. Mark's Church, which was a Performance Club outing (P. Club post here). I'm not really sure what I thought of the performance as a whole but there were a lot of things going on that I was interested in; I felt like there was a kind of overflowing of ideas which is far preferable to watching something that's lacking ideas. And there were numerous times when I felt emotionally engaged/invested in these people and scenarios I was watching. I also spent a lot of time thinking, ooh, that even sounds painful. You could really hear the dancers hitting the floor, hitting each other, etc. At one point Tony Orrico (one of the three dancers in the performance) was shaking Ferver hard enough that you could hear Ferver's cheeks flapping and I was a bit worried that it could cause whiplash. What I liked best though was the way the piece explored how the same people can be both a burden and a support, at one time pulling you back or obstructing you, at another time lifting you up, the ways we have power over one another. Or maybe this is too literal an interpretation? Anyway, I'm really glad I went. 

No comments: