She plays two beautiful pieces by Bach (she made an album of Bach Partitas when she was only 16):
Gigue (from Partita No. 3) is fun and lively and Siciliana (from Sonata No. 1) is somber and sweet. Her fingering is perfect. She is playing an 1864 Vuillaume fiddle and her sound is beautiful.
Earlier in 2011, she had released an album of Charles Ives’ four violin sonatas. The blurb says that Ives weaved bits of Americana into his sonatas–quotes from old hymns and folks songs.
For her final piece, she combines four of these pieces: “Shall We Gather at the River,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “Battle Cry of Freedom” and “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” into her own melody. She comments:
[READ: April 26, 2016] new movies, new drama
I was surprised to see that Rivka Galchen had been doing reviews in Harper’s (that image above is actually from The New York Times, apologies). It seems like a step down from writing long pieces or short stories. But who knows, maybe it’s a good gig (heck, wouldn’t I love to write about movies and television …hey wait).
Over the past year she has written five reviews of entertainments.
In March 2015, she reviewed Paddington and I really liked her insights into the movie (I posted about that already, here).
Then in June 2015, she wrote about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I had enjoyed the show by the time I read this piece (when it first came out), but I have just re-read it and it really makes me want to watch the new season (I watched the first episode but didn’t really love it as much as the previous season). She raves about the opening credit sequence (which is fantastic) but spends a lot of the essay talking about how groundbreaking the show is because we are used to seeing adult men act like boys, but rarely do we see adult women act like girls (with glitter sneakers and a backpack). The interesting thing is that “She invites admiration, yet it will be a rare viewer who would want to trade places with her…That’s what makes her a more radical invention than most earlier female comic leads.”
Galchen likes the “surprisingly glittering quality to dark moments… which appear unexpectedly and then dont quite vanish.”
She ties all this back to Lucy and Desi (Desilu produces the show). In real life, Desi Arnaz was discriminated against and relied on Lucille Ball to get him onto her show, thus the joke of Lucy trying to get into Ricky Ricardos’s show (I had no idea).
In September 2015, she writes about Louie (a show that she mentioned in the previous essay “Hallelujah”). This time she is reviewing Season 5 of the show. She talks of Louie as having a superpower: love. “he transforms his sister’s aggressive gun-wielding ex-boyfriend into a gentle, giggling man who learns to knit. Galchen focuses on the fourth episode, with his brother Bobby. “Part of Louie’s superhero of love is his ability to occupy a position of humiliation and dejection, as if this might protect those around him from the same fate.”
She points out that no one on the show actually thinks Louie has any superpowers, but she enjoys reading it as such. I have never been able to get into Louie, but she certainly make it sound very compelling–maybe I should start with Season 5..
In December of 2015, she wrote under the heading “new drama.” She writes about Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. She says the movie is about two groups who are above the law fighting each other. “We never learn what all these missions are intended to bring about. Its’ simply presented as a given that the goals of the I.M.F. are good and that those of the Syndicate are bad.”
I’m intrigued at this note from Galchen: the original theme song was 5/4; “at various points in Rogue Nation, it’s been altered to 4/4. This is some say, because the 4/4 beat is easier to dance to.
I was delighted at the way she segued the review of this movie into a review of a performance of Antigone, in which a woman breaks the law to give her dead brother a proper burial.
These are characters for whom what is past–Antigone’s necessitous origins, Creon’s tainted ascent to the throne–is prophetic; the future is there waiting for them all along, and the future is death. That the dead are still alive and trying to destroy us is, of course, also the premise of Rogue Nation.
She ties in that 4/4 dance beat at the end by mentioning a friend who said after watching the play that he couldn’t stop thinking of John Boehner (who had just resigned). Galchen say that although it’s tempting to believe that the Pope’s words of kindness were what compelled him to resign, him to retire, it was mostly likely inspired by pressure from the right, but we prefer the Pope version–it’s an easier beat to follow.
Finally in March 2016, Galchen wrote about the Wooster Group, an experimental theater company. She talks about their lucid, fevered work. She saw their Hamlet in 2007 and was delighted by their unexpected delivery. And now (well, then) they are doing Harold Pinter’s The Room.
She speaks of Pinter–his use of violence and long dramatic pauses. The Room is a one-act black comedy. One of the things the Wooster Group does is show, behind the actors, television screens, partially turned to the audience with what appears to be Chinese political debates. The actors wear earpieces that pipes the audio from these screens into their ears which no doubt impacts their delivery.
Wooster Group revels in the absurdity of their shows. I’d be curious to see one of their productions, although i won’t be rushing out to do so.