Today's Classical Music Video

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Meta Weiss & Arianna Warsaw-Fan's Pop Video Take on the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia

The last time I remember a large chunk of the audience clapping between movements at a classical music concert was at the Mariinsky's appearance in Montreal last October and it was, unsurprisingly, during a performance of Tchaikovsky's sixth symphony. 

I attended Santropol Roulant's Gala symphonique last night. During a performance of Dvořák's Terzetto and the Brahms's Sextet No. 1, there was not only enthusiastic applause between each movement, but loud 'bravo's.' I even heard a couple 'wow's', etc. The perfomers—a very strong Andrew Wan, Arianna Warsaw-Fan, Rémi Nakauchi Pelletier, Andrew Beer, Yegor Dyachkov, and Anna Burden—reacted with grins of what seemed like mild surprise as well as pleasure. 

I've written about how the 'silence between movements' rule is quite a recent phenomenon ("The History of Concert Etiquette, Abridged"), and I can attest that listening to these supposed disruptions was a lot more pleasant than taking in the usual releasing of pent-up coughs, recrossing of legs, and shuffling of programme notes. People might have been doing these things as well, but thankfully it was drowned out by the applause.

The applause was in no small part in response to the charismatic playing and players and their relaxed and friendly approach. Wan introduced the performance by making a joke about Vulcans (Sarek, Spock's father, cries at a performance of the sextet in an episode).

Warsaw-Fan's colleague, Meta Weiss, sent this Video of the Day entry to us several months ago. Like last night's performance, it's a quirky and personable take on a chamber music piece (the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia). The visuals might be described as a mix of Coppola's Marie Antoinette and Stoker's Dracula alongside graffiti and modern cityscapes. The recording of this very difficult piece is played cleanly and well.

Weiss wrote us that they "wanted to make something that would reach a broader audience outside of the classical music world, and also something that would accurately reflect the nuances of the music."

One of the commenters on Youtube wrote: "Nice performance, ladies. I suppose it's a sign of progress for classical music that the video for 'Criminal' by Britney Spears turns up as related at the end!"

That didn't show up for me, but it is a sign that Weiss and Warsaw-Fan have potential to reach that elusive broader audience they speak of.

Do you know of other classical music videos that successfully take cues from pop music videos?

— Crystal Chan

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