Xavier Le Roy’s “More Mouvements für Lachenmann” at FIAF’s Crossing the Line
Zut Alors! That’s pretty much all I have to say. I know I should write a thoughtful treatise on how Xavier Le Roy, working with avant-garde composer Helmut Lachenmann, courageously undermines the very notion of dance and music by questioning what it means for us to “look” and “listen” and “move”. But really the experience of watching More Mouvements für Lachenmann was pretty brutal.
No, that’s not entirely true.
The first piece, “Pression”, was for one cellist and it was interesting in that kind of “I’m going to use my instrument as an object” kind of way. I assume Le Roy choreographed it a bit as the cellist, Andreas Lindenbaum, moved in a rather stylized way as he brutalized his instrument. Making different sounds from a breathy, scratchy whisper to almost unbearable screeching, Lindenbaum provoked the cello beyond the bounds of “music”. At one point the lights slowly faded and he played for awhile in the dark – which was quite nice, actually. His control of the instrument was impressive, especially given its unorthodox use. And the tension between interesting noise and excruciating racket was kind of interesting. If mostly for the relief you felt when it got quiet again. But overall the piece was pretty cool.
The second piece, “Salut fur Caudwell” had a simple, clever conceit. Four guitarists entered the stage and two of them were then hidden behind black boxes. Those two – hidden from view – actually played their guitars while the other two guitarists sat in front and pretended to play their guitars. It was entertaining to see the movement divorced from the music, especially when the movement became exaggerated, fanciful or unreal. And the “music” – basically more of the musique concrete style of using instruments in nontraditional ways – was less abrasive, mostly, than the previous piece.
But the third piece, mon dieu! Entitled “Gran Torso” it was, um, well, basically a mime piece. Or something. To be honest I kind of blocked it from my mind. The entire ensemble of eight musicians came out and, with music stands in front of them, started to play some musique concrete. Then they would get to a point in the music where they would just sit and stare at the audience (kind of an old trick at this point, the whole audience/performer silent confrontation thing) and then eventually they stopped playing at all and just made gestures and arm movements. For, like, FOREVER!!! I mean I really don’t remember. I kept nodding off and then waking up and then watching and nodding off and waking up. I could feel everyone around my chafing. It was excruciating!! Intellectually I can appreciate the exploration and decontextualization of found movement and the idea of questioning our assumptions about the nature of experience as related to “hearing” music and “seeing” dance and blah de blah blah blah. But OMG. Ouch.
After the show I saw a friend of mine – oh and everyone who is anyone was there tonight – who lamented that it must have been awfully disappointing to the musicians to not be allowed to actually, you know, play their instruments! I couldn’t agree more. Hey I’m all for new music and the avant-garde, but dude, really? But then again – I don’t get Jacques Tati either. (M. Hulot is NOT FUNNY!)