Berlioz Bicentennial

With Currie sounding each drum, mallet, or metal to an ever-repeating rhythmic figure, various orchestral soloists and ensemble groups simultaneously define the melody or motif. Torke’s expressed goal is to use these devices to get the listener grooved into a rapturous state. Except for parts of the marimba movement, I was chiseled into an unrelentingly bored state. In this work, Torke commits an unpardonable sin: most of his forces go unheard.
Specifically, the full string complement, the full wind complement, and the harp are seen busily sawing, blowing, and plucking away with only occasional audible evidence of their presence. The listener hears only the trumpets and trombones vying for attention with Currie’s fearsome forward phalanx. The audience did give hearty applause at Rapture’s conclusion and reportedly bought considerable numbers of its Naxos CD recording during intermission. In my view, however, they were sustaining a collective placebo effect from Torke’s pre-performance address to them regarding the sexual rapture and related concepts. Like the 12-tone music of nearly a century ago, Rapture needs to be studied not merely heard to be appreciated.

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