Monday, November 4, 2013

Sven’s Symphonies Lost in Pockets

 (….from the liner notes…)
    “When furnaces turn into fairy castles, memories take over. We know that we could ideally shape and mould what lies ahead and everything past remains mercilessly incomplete.”
   “When the smaller clock hand has moved around those 12 numbers twice, it is the start of a new day. Always. Without exception.”
   “Whole chapters of life become snapshots from Polaroid’s epic paintings.”
  “12 symphonic seals that leave an imprint on our stamps of longing for meaningful sensitivity behind.”
   Behind? Whose behind?
   Of these mind numbing, jaw clenching dicta from the tortured attempt of the annotator (who will remain unnamed) to make sense of Sven Helbig’s Pocket Symphonies, let’s call his efforts valiant. However, this slick project released by Deutsche Gramophone stains this distinguished firm’s reputation. The cool shades of grays and blues for the photographs of the fine musicians make them look like the well-tended sons and daughters of organized crime bosses, and well matched to this music I call contemporary overproduced classical Muzak.

   Mr. Helbig’s harmonic language generally aspires to the sophistication of an amateur lounge pianist, and we must pity especially the Fauré Quartet which strives to shape the composer’s utterly undistinguished meandering melodies. Let’s thank Kristjan Jarvi and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony for keeping these twelve short movements (Urban Perfume, Bell Sound Falling Like Snow, A Tear, etc.) moving. So tired is the recasting of Vivaldi as minimalist, but despicable is the bastardization of the last movement of Haydn’s C major Cello Concerto. At best the slow treacly pieces are trite. Flecks of shine from the mallet instruments executed by Mr. Helbig enliven orchestrations that may have as well been played on a synthesizer. This product bobs between the arbitrary and the ill founded. Perhaps this music belongs on a catwalk in Darwin, or a casino on Uranus.
   “Ugliness is inseparable from beauty it just depends on your point of view.” (sic)
  Don’t walk away.
   “We are looking for answers to the unanswered questions that play on our mind.”


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