11 décembre 2011

"A Zappa Affair" conducted by Kent Nagano @ Berkeley

Added by vinzer72frie on 28 nov. 2009

"A Zappa Affair"
orchestral concert, Zellerbach Auditorium, UC Berkeley, June 16 1984.
It was played by the Berkely Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kent Nagano.
The ballets consisted of giant puppets with dancers inside them.

Via afka.net: “I was in IRCAM in the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, the Boulez Institute for Contemporary Music. I was talking to someone about the upcoming commissions, and I found out that Boulez had asked for a piece from, of all people, Frank Zappa,” Nagano recalls. “I was really dumbfounded because Boulez can demand the very best. That was the first time I had thought of Zappa since listening to his early albums in my adolescence. So the next time Frank came through to play at the Berkeley Community Theater, I called up his management in LA and asked to talk to Zappa about his orchestral piece. Frank called me here later, much to my surprise.
He told me to drop by backstage between shows; I came and he showed me a score. It was nothing like I ever could have expected. I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect to see a work of the difficulty of an Elliott Carter score, the complexity of a Boulez work, the sincerity of Takemitsu, and the driving intensity of Varèse. I expected maybe Rogers and Hammerstein, some insipid sort of thing. I was knocked out of my boots sitting there in this seedy dressing room watching Frank directing people about in his own inimitable way.

“I brought the score home and spent several weeks very carefully going through it, and finally concluded that this is really important stuff. It’s got to be performed. And this is after coming to it with a great deal of cynicism. So I contacted his office requesting to perform the score with the Berkeley Symphony. And the response was, ‘What makes you think you can perform it?’ because the piece is really, really difficult. Frank invited me to come down and talk with him more seriously. What he wanted was an assurance that the necessary amount of rehearsals could be scheduled. If so, he might consider allowing the piece to be performed. None of these real orchestral scores that he’d been writing since he was fourteen had ever been performed, because if they were going to be heard, he wanted them done right, the same way he wants his rock pieces done right. He’d rather just hear it in his head, than have it massacred and taken advantage of. So the meeting was not what I would call successful.

“Then, a few weeks later out of the blue, Frank called me saying he wanted to record some of his music. He was going to hire the London Symphony Orchestra and would I consider conducting. For me it was both an honor and a privilege to be selected to conduct the works of a composer I highly respect with an orchestra I highly respect. But when the pile of scores came, it became apparent that I was going to have to work my tail off. There was a period of nearly two months that I stayed up and got about three hours worth of sleep. That’s a long time to go without sleep, but those scores were stretching my personal technique. I had only a short amount of time to learn the music, working from raw, unheard manuscripts. I grew’ an unbelievable amount just from learning the scores."

“Then when we went to London, I knew what the orchestra members were going to think: music by some rock musician; this is going to be an easy day. We had booked ten rehearsals and a whole series of recording sessions, and bear in mind this is with a world class orchestra that can rehearse and record a piece in one session. So we began with the most difficult score, and you could just see the panic set in when the players opened the parts."

And there really was pressure. This was an orchestra I’d never worked with before and Frank Zappa was sitting right behind me. But he was a wonderful composer to work with because he stayed out of the way when he needed to be out of the way, yet he was always there to answer any question. When you’re working with someone of that caliber it just gets so exciting, because you know you’ll be working at the highest standard and you won’t have to compromise because of time." Kent Nagano

# In Tune by Terry Hawkins / East Bay Express, June 15, 1984
# download "A Zappa Affair" original booklet [pdf]

From 'Serious Music' Bootleg:
Introduction (2:40)
Preamble to "Sinister Footwear" (4:07)
"Sinister Footwear", in its entirety, is in three movements with 21 parts.
The parts are named as follows:
# First Movement (9:51)
• Jake Who Designs It
• Somewhere in New Jersey Where They Make Them
• Illegal Aliens on a Lunch Break
• At the Catering Truck
• Jake Eats a Molded Jello Salad
• Jake's Secretary
• Illegal Aliens Work Slower in the Afternoon
• Jake's Secretary Reads Her Magazine
• Illegal Aliens Want to Go Home
• Jake's Secretary Eats Cottage Cheese
# Second Movement (11:42)
• Ugly Shoes on the Assembly Line
• What You Think You Look Like When You're Wearing Them
• Sometimes They Make You Walk Funny
• Other People Pretend Not to Notice
• Sometimes You Have to Take Them Off for a Minute
• Then You Put Them Back On Because You Think They Look So Good on You
Ritual Dance of the Set Changers (4:29)
# Third Movement (5:31) (cute sneeze in public in the early)
• Children Can Also Have Ugly Shoes
• The Foot Doctor Says You Might Need an Operation
• But You're Going to Wear Them Anyway
• Everybody Has a Pair Somewhere
• A Place You Can Go When You've Got Them On
Preamble to Spontaneous Minimalist Composition (3:37)
Spontaneous Minimalist Composition (2:06)
Pedro's Dowry (8:06)
Thank You & Goodnight (3:36)

# www.kentnagano.com

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