Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Teen-agers and the Grandfathers - Performers and Composers

In a previous blog, I have already gone over the issue of the stylistic prescience of two great composers; namely, Chopin and Rachmaninoff.
You may recall that I discussed the remarkable reality of both composers' stamp of stylistic originality by their seventeenth year; that is, in both of their first Concerti, one already can identify the inescapable language that both continued to promulgate throughout their lives; only the incalculable growth of their abilities to enhance and deepen their future work remain the constancy of their change in meaning, simply by way of the ongoing years that allowed for their personal growth within the style that was theirs from the beginning.
There is a strange, however logical anachronism that arises from the above reality, if one thinks about the world of difference between the art of Jazz, and Classical music.
For example, take the two great performers in Pop and Jazz, Mel Torme the singer and George Shearing the pianist. The two, as you may know, collaborated for some years and have left us with many memorable recordings.
I think of Jazz, metaphorically, as a Face, shining in youth and at times with a smile. When we hear Torme and Shearing we hear that Smile and Youth so very often, as necessary ingredients within the style, especially when Torme plunges into 'scat' singing and Shearing breaks out with his wonderful Stride Bass in the left hand - and yet these two were old enough to be grandfathers. The youth and ebullience in their more sprightly, positive incarnations belied their true ages.
Now go back to Chopin and Rachmaninoff. They both, as youngsters, had already created some of the primary melodies in their first concerti, and even though they were both seventeen, the nature of eclectic and poignant depth belied THEIR ages; it seems, almost, as if they both already had lived through a full range of life.
How wonderfully opposed the imagery of Age can be in music, depending upon the kind of music it happens to be!

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