Broadly speaking, all music is in perpetual motion. Even a rest is more like a leap from one note to the next rather than a stop, or it serves as potential energy preparing for dynamic sound to come. But there is that special marking in music scores that drives the point home: moto perpetuo.
How people take leave of a job says a great deal about them. This summer marks the last for Jay Lesenger as Chautauqua Opera’s general and artistic director.
Monsters, witches and a devil (well, Stalin, anyway). This was perhaps not a typical program for the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, but it was in turns electrifying, poignant, lovely and menacing.
In fact, the concert Saturday night in the Amphitheater was an intriguing look at danger set in Russia. It began with the fantastical one of two monsters that abduct the characters Russlan and Ludmilla in the opera of the same name by Glinka, moved to the frightful Slavic legend of Baba Yaga and concluded with Shostakovich’s secret account of the brutality of Stalin’s regime. All led by, with a measure of irony, but a conductor at ease, the American Ira Levin.
In all the traditional arts, there may be no greater a misnomer today than the accepted designation that classical music is tranquil — that it is suitable stuff for relaxation and the background. Anyone who has listened to a Beethoven symphony, Verdi opera or Stravinsky ballet on earphones certainly knows that isn’t the case. Classical music is the realm of drama, of tremendous contrast, of tension and release.