My dad has one of many strangest airplane routines I’ve ever encountered. On worldwide flights, generally 10 or extra hours lengthy, he’ll take heed to a single tune on loop whereas doing work on his laptop computer. His current favorites embrace Shakira’s “Strive Every part” (from “Zootopia”) and Dan + Shay’s “Tequila.”
Greater than anything, my dad’s unnerving behavior demonstrates this easy reality: with music, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. In truth, the extra we take heed to and perceive a bit of music, the extra we will come to like it.
This perception into musical style underpinned composer Rob Kapilow’s Wednesday evening program, “What Makes It Nice: The Solo Piano Landscapes of Debussy.” That includes performances by rising pianist Tony Yun, the present dove deep into the musical nuances of 4 of Debussy’s barely lesser-known works. Kapilow’s mixture of lecture-style evaluation and classical efficiency is the defining attribute of the “What Makes It Nice” collection, which originated on NPR.
The present seemingly goals to advertise attentive listening — experiencing a bit for its particulars and context moderately than absorbing it usually. Kapilow and Yun unequivocally achieved this. Via an intense but accessible evaluation, the 2 enabled the viewers to listen to each bit in its greatness.
I’d be shocked if a single viewers member left with out studying one thing new. Kapilow not-so-subtly name-dropped when describing his training with Nadia Boulanger on the Paris Conservatory, however he has the mind to again it up. Between demonstrations, Kapilow threw in anecdotes and trivia nuggets that appeared to tickle the viewers’s curiosity, eliciting chuckles and “ah’s” of understanding.
Yun carried out the works with exceptional artistry and sensitivity, enjoying after every of Kapilow’s explanations. It takes a particular expertise to carry out random excerpts of a bit — muscle reminiscence usually prompts solely at sure beginning factors — however Yun did so with out hassle. Although he’s but to discover a signature sound, he has the chops and the dedication of a world-class soloist, supposedly having your entire program in per week.
Much more spectacular to me had been the duo’s precision and showmanship. The 2 wasted no time on stage; each excerpt, transition and lighting cue was rhythmically rehearsed. We usually speak about “move state” with reference to musical performances, however I wouldn’t be shocked if Kapilow and Yun achieved one thing related throughout their back-and-forth.
The strongest criticism I could make of the present additionally falls thus far: Kapilow is extraordinarily fast-paced. With overwhelmingly technical content material (motivic and harmonic evaluation), this system typically felt like an overload of the “what” of Debussy’s greatness on the expense of the “why.” I get the impression that he’s just too enthusiastic about this music to excise any a part of his dialogue, however a number of data obtained misplaced between his mouth and my ears.
Even so, there’s one thing so magical in his oration that I discover myself doubting my very own judgments. This present has been high quality tuned over a long time: absolutely Kapilow has discovered what works for his viewers. “What Makes It Nice” faces the unimaginable job of teaching listeners of all completely different musical backgrounds, from the 10-year-old little one subsequent to me to the gentleman who instructed Kapilow a Debussy story even he hadn’t heard earlier than.
Certainly, Kapilow’s response to the story — instructed in the course of the post-show Q&A — knowledgeable me essentially the most about his character and the collection.
In some unspecified time in the future prior, I had satisfied myself that Kapilow was studying or reciting from a script; I noticed no different means for him to reconcile all these ideas. However he misplaced no eloquence in the course of the Q&A interval, and every response confirmed a glimpse of his real musical curiosity. He proved to the viewers past doubt that, simply as within the solo piano music of Debussy, there may be intentionality behind each second of his efficiency.
All of this brings me again to the concept of attentive listening. Listeners prefer to know extra concerning the music they’re listening to, whether or not it’s the lyrics to a J. Cole hit or the contrapuntal intricacies of a Bach fugue. Kapilow’s “What Makes It Nice” has discovered a option to transfer listeners towards that place of information in simply a few hours.
Kapilow will proceed “What Makes It Nice” at Bing on Saturday with the music of Carole King and Joni Mitchell.
Editor’s Word: This text is a overview and contains subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.