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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 7 , 2012/ 13 Adar, 5772

Program notes, Or: Lutoslawski in Little Roc

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- First comes the talk. It can't be helped, much like the announcers' chitchat on KLRE, the classical music station here in the middle of Arkansas. It's a small station, but there are those who love it. Putting up with the chatter is the tax you pay for getting to hear the music that is the station's reason for being. Think of it as verbal static. It may be annoying between compositions, but the wait is worth it.

On occasion the exasperated listener, wondering how much longer he'll have to wait for his Bach or Mozart, may be tempted to shout: Less talk, more music! It helps at such times to remember, gratefully, that Little Rock is blessed in having not one but two public radio stations. Many places have only one, or none at all. We've got one for talk and one for music, and the talk station steps up to jazz at night. Big improvement.

But now all the talk has started to follow the listener right into the concert hall. For it's become customary to introduce the program, sometimes at unfortunate length and in folksy tones. As a conservative, I should be the last to object to custom, that wisest of counselors. Besides, if patience is a virtue, and it is, the opportunity to practice it should be welcomed.

This evening the ever-patient patrons of the local chamber-music series get a short but still much too long introduction, beginning with the most memorable (unfortunately) selection of the evening:

Lutoslawski's String Quartet, a mix of notes and chance in the best/worst modern tradition. As is explained by one of the musicians, "none of us is supposed to play together." For the most part, they succeed.

The talented musicians do their best to slouch toward anarchy but never quite get there. That's the thing about order; it has this way of emerging on its own, as in time and nature and geometry, imposing itself despite our best efforts to upset it. Much like the laws of random selection, which are anything but random.

The musicians wear funereal black, fitting for a work that's not supposed to have a pulse. Are they beginning now, or only tuning up? It isn't clear, a sure indication they're following the composer's instructions.

It's all pretty dreadful but there's a fascination to it. Where'll they go next? Do they know? Does it matter? Just as long as it ends, please God.

No, it's not the sort of thing you might like to hear first thing in the morning on your classical music station. Or anytime. But here in the gleaming Great Hall of the Clinton Library, the lights of downtown Little Rock counter-gleaming through the great glass panes behind the musicians, sitting there with friends and a glass of cabernet in hand, the bright chandeliers high above reflected in the clear windows, you could get used to it. Despite the composer's intention that you not.

Witold Lutoslowski sounds like an artist/mathematician who wanted to be the Beethoven of his chaotic time, complete with that composer's grandiose, bombastic effect, but happily failed. In tonight's performance, he comes across as almost homey, like a child determined to scare the grown-ups but who only amuses us, bless his heart.

We're told the piece is supposed to be unpredictable, dramatic, ad hoc ... but, like so many things intended to shock, or at least surprise, it doesn't. It's almost comfortable, conversational, congenial. This noted modernist composer, who's supposed to be so formidable, winds up instead sounding like a nice chap -- someone you'd down a vodka with. But not two.

The musicians do their best to work themselves into a frenzy as instructed but, heck, it's the South, and the lady and gentlemen of the quartet wind up charming instead of alarming us. It can't be helped. Locale is all. Sometimes a composer fails despite the worst of intentions. It's hard to be uncomfortable in such surroundings. But I'm glad I heard the piece. Once.

Much can be forgiven a composer born in Warsaw in 1913 just in time for all the horrors of the 20th century, including a world war in two extended acts, the second even more terrible than the first, exile external and internal, occupations by opposite but equally murderous ideologies ... the whole bloody, torturous catastrophe.

Having seen it all, Witold Lutoslawski would die in Warsaw in 1994 just after the Soviet Union finally did. It's a wonder his music isn't any more disjointed than it is.

Tedium doesn't set in till almost the end, when at one point the music seems to fall into a swoon, like a P-38 after an unfortunate encounter with a Zero. Indeed, the piece doesn't so much end as it is put out of its misery. You can almost hear, you do hear, the audience sigh with relief. The silence comes like music.

The rest of the program erases the pain, beginning with Grandjany's "Rhapsodie pour la Harpe, Op. 10." After tumult, order. After war, peace. After raving, quiet. After the long night, matins. After slaying his tens of thousands, David plays his harp. After the crusades have raged, the monks pray. There is balance in the world after all, harmony and comfort.

Then comes Torke's "Chalk," a musical equivalent of a pointillist painting in all its pastel shades. The listener may have to stand back before all the dots form a picture. In this case it's pink and rose and gray -- a kind of blended nougat of sound. Delicious. But maybe too rich. Even for someone with a sweet tooth. A wedge of lemon on the salad, please, a dash of salt on the watermelon. Something to cut the sweetness.

The best is saved for the end: Beethoven's String Quartet in F minor, Op. 95, "Serioso." Once again words just get in the way, prejudicing the listener. Like a talkative tour guide who is forever pointing instead of letting us discover the wonder on our own and so own it for ourselves.

Serioso? Why not Elegante? That adjective would fit as well. Why any description at all? It just gets in the way.

Stately, swaying, the piece resolves not just chords but the evening. Give 'em a happy ending every time.

For that feeling of elation and elevation great music affords, a Beethoven string quarter is the perfect prescription. As a doctor once told me, exercise may not have all the advertised benefits for the heart, but it does provide a feeling of aliveness and wellness. No small things. This string quartet does the same.

Beethoven may be best when confined to four instruments. None of the drama and braggadocio and thunderous familiarity of his symphonies here, just a little night music, night flight, night flutter. To filter Beethoven down to a string quartet is to civilize him, much like civilizing a gifted child. You don't want to break his spirit, never, but recognize it, give it safe rein, like a wild river not tamed but directed, its power and freedom undiminished and allowed to flow unhindered to the sea. Which is just what this well-played string quartet does tonight.

Then comes the encore: driving home safely, humming.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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