There was a sort of mini Schoenberg Fest at the TIFF Lightbox yesterday. First up we got Topher Mokrzewski and Adanya Dunn with Claude Vivier’s Hymnen an die Nacht and five pieces from Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. The Vivier was a very apt choice; a piece of CanCon in the spirit of the Schoenberg. Topher may not like Schoenberg but he certain;y knows how to play it and Adanya, in my opinion, is at her considerable best in music of this type. Good start.
Then we got the two Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet films Introduction to Arnold Schoenberg’s “Accompaniment to a Cinematographic Scene” and Moses and Aaron. The first is didactic in the extreme. It consists of someone readig Schoenberg’s reply to Kandinsky’s invitation to him to join the Bauhaus. It’s a long diatribe about the impossibility of Schoenberg, as a Jew, working with someone prepared to compromise with an anti-Semitic government. It’s followed by a radio talk by Brecht on the futility of opposing “barbarism” while not opposing the “cause of barbarism”; capitalism. In case we haven’t got it yet the film closes with film of the Americans bombing Vietnam.
After this Moses and Aaron seemed positively action packed despite being one of the most static productions in cinema history. I reviewed it on DVD five years ago and I still feel almost exactly the same way after seeing it on the big screen so I’m not going to repeat myself. I will say though that TIFF’s print was much better than the one used for the DVD. It’s rather a good restoration in fact.
I have to congratulate TIFF on an interesting programming choice despite my feelings about the films. Combining live performance with music related film is a great idea. Final thought though. If one is going to program a two and a half hour show an interval is a good idea.