Revised Music for Marimba and Orchestra

From Simon Boyar:

We didn’t get the whole thing and its kind of wobbly but here is about 2/3 of The World Premiere (2/20/10) of Frank Zappa’s Revised Music for Marimba and Orchestra conducted by Jonathan Haas with The NYU Zappa Pickup Orchestra.

21 Responses to “Revised Music for Marimba and Orchestra”

  1. Maroual says:

    That’s pretty good, it’s just too bad there seems to be (at least) two mistakes: @2:15 and @4:38.

  2. urbangraffito says:

    Imagine two elephants, each holding a mallet in it’s trunk, and you might get an approximation to what I have witnessed here. Perhaps if Simon Boyar was just a little less in love with himself and his own abilities, and a little more in love with Zappa’s composition, his “Revised Music for Marimba and Orchestra” with The NYU Zappa Pickup Orchestra wouldn’t remind me so much of Zappa compositions performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. That performance was just terrible, given a musician of his “so-called” stature. I’ve heard smaller quintets of little known musicians perform Zappa with more style and verve.

  3. Thinman says:

    I don’t have as much problems with the performance.

    The problem here is: a marimba doesn’t sound good when you hit it that hard. Here it sounds more like a xylophone with that short and sharp attack. Frank solved this by applying pickups directly to the wood in the Ruth days to make this instrument useable in a live rock situation.

    That reminds of how much I like everything that Ruth did. It always sounded smooth and easy, full and rich at the same time. I never get the same thrill when hearing Ed Mann or any other mallet player

    Th.

  4. Bálint says:

    Yes, he beats it like the mallets were hammers. None of the lightness of Mrs Underwood.

  5. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Thinman:

    I don’t have as much problems with the performance.

    The problem here is: a marimba doesn’t sound good when you hit it that hard. Here it sounds more like a xylophone with that short and sharp attack. Frank solved this by applying pickups directly to the wood in the Ruth days to make this instrument useable in a live rock situation.

    That reminds of how much I like everything that Ruth did. It always sounded smooth and easy, full and rich at the same time. I never get the same thrill when hearing Ed Mann or any other mallet player

    Th.

    A quote from Bálint:

    Yes, he beats it like the mallets were hammers. None of the lightness of Mrs Underwood.

    I think the whole problem here is the “superstar soloist” mentality. You get the distinct impression that Boyar is showing off his chops instead of playing with the rest of the assembled musicians. One keeps hearing about the “Boyar” method. What is that anyway? Beating the fuck out of the marimba? The more I hear it, the more I appreciate Ruth Underwood, and yes, even Ed Mann.

  6. Thinman says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    … I think the whole problem here is the “superstar soloist” mentality. …

    I have to admit that I had never heard of Boyar before. Belongs in the same category as people like Nigel Kennedy or so. Virtuosity for the circus.

    Th.

  7. exile says:

    A quote from exile:

    at least) two mistakes: @2:15 and @4:38.

    I think there’s a wrong note at 0:18, too. But I’m inclined to think the whole thing was a mistake. Just a vehicle for a narcissistic show pony. (IMHO)

    Now I will go and listen to the Studio Tan version which I love so much, and try to forget this unfortunate experience.

  8. DD says:

    Sounds out of tune to me too…

  9. peter says:

    Picky, picky, picky. I’m just happy that something sorta new and different has taken place.

  10. Jane23 says:

    Kill Ugly Marimba

  11. Plooker says:

    Before I read any of the comments my first impression was the marimba sounds like shit. I love studio tan though.

  12. Michael says:

    I can think of many solo inststruments far more suitable for this piece. And the ensemble gives the worst legit rendition I have heard, ever. Sorry about this.

  13. sterbus says:

    Let’s hope Simon Boyar is not a KUR follower…

  14. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from sterbus:

    Let’s hope Simon Boyar is not a KUR follower…

    If he wasn’t before, I bet you he is now! :D

  15. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    A quote from sterbus:

    Let’s hope Simon Boyar is not a KUR follower…

    If he wasn’t before, I bet you he is now! :D

    That is, Barry, if he can take a little criticism. Performing Zappa should never be taken lightly, ever. Remember when Ed Mann fucked up the intro to “Dickie’s Such An Asshole” once during the 1988 tour? Zappa fans don’t mind variation as long as the essential elements and overall intent of Zappa’s compositions are respected.

  16. Thinman says:

    Slightly off-topic (but only slightly, because it is all about FZ): I want to be honest with you. Over the last 20 or 30 years I have heard so much interesting and impressive contemporary serious classical music, that Frank’s efforts in that field seem sometimes uninteresting, plain, conservative and armateurish to me now. For example some of Frank’s longer pieces for large orchestra sound pretty much like a naive copy of Elliott Carter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPTFG49NN7c (1969)

    Though the other way around one could accuse Carter having stolen his Clarinet Concerto (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Re9vvypcM4 , 1996) directly from Mo ‘N Herb’s Vacation (heh-heh!)

    Yesterday I had an exiting moment when there was a performance of works by Tan Dun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tan_Dun) on German TV (WDR), conducted by the composer himself. I much enjoyed his work “Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo” for 12 cellos and orchestra.

    This can actually be found on Youtube in three parts:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sFbeyWynBA
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxBO_WqT3dY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbeeOkzbN9c&feature=related

    And yes, Mister Tan Dun is probably one of those crowd pleasers in of the scene too.

    Th.

  17. peter says:

    I personally don’t care about mistakes. Zappa was always a bit of a jerk for writing things that only a handful of people could pull off.

  18. Thinman says:

    A quote from peter:

    I personally don’t care about mistakes. Zappa was always a bit of a jerk for writing things that only a handful of people could pull off.

    Personally I always thought that music isn’t automatically good just because it is difficult.

    I know people who think music is automatically bad when it is simple and easy to play (mainly musicians).

    Th.

  19. Thinman says:

    And the Tan Dun performance has also a part 4:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sBfhkgHxE48&feature=related

  20. urbangraffito says:

    Thinman, one gets the feeling that Zappa would have appreciated Tan Dun’s “Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo”, particularly for its dissonant qualities, and the use of voice as another instrument.

  21. exile says:

    A quote from peter:

    Picky, picky, picky. I’m just happy that something sorta new and different has taken place.

    But this isn’t new and different. This is a poorly executed cover version.

    A quote from peter:

    Zappa was always a bit of a jerk for writing things that only a handful of people could pull off.

    Again, I beg to disagree. Frank Zappa was a composer who wrote music. He wanted it played well. Does that really deserve derision?

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