29 July 2013

Death to the Tsar!

Well, i can cross The Battleship Potemkin off my bucket list. Been reading about this great classic movie all my life, and i finally got around to seeing it. Better yet, i saw it on a large screen in Davies Hall accompanied by Cameron Carpenter on that magnificent Ruffatti organ.

Carpenter opened the performance with one of his transcriptions of a Mozart piece, which i just loved. Actually, i think he may be at his best in his transcriptions even though his current interest seems to be on theater organ compositions, and his accompaniment of Eisenstein’s film emphasized the harshness of its subject.

The only silent film i’d ever seen before with a live accompaniment was a showing decades ago in the Castro Theater of von Stroheim’s Greed accompanied by a much lesser organist on a much lesser organ, so it was a great treat to hear Carpenter playing the Ruffatti.

And the movie? Well, the histrionics of silent films doesn’t wear well, but even so i found myself getting a bit choked up during the massacre on the Odessa steps, and i found the blatant propagandizing as entertaining as Glen Beck.

Still, as propaganda goes, it didn’t even come close to the effect that i experienced while attending a performance in the early seventies of Prokofief’s Alexander Nevsky by the Houston Symphony. That music made me want to rush out of the theater so that i could more rapidly bleed and die for Mother Russia.

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