Madison Civic Center, Madison, Wisconsin
Evelyn Glennie, percussion / Madison Symphony Orchestra / John DeMain
The older I get, the simpler I get.
After years of garnishing my orchestral works with every type of gong and drum, I’ve concluded that non-pitched percussion is superfluous, even in Beethoven. I am morally against all cymbal crashes, and feel that snares and bongos are strictly ornamental.
But Evelyn Glennie is too grand a performer to refuse. We agreed that “our” concerto would feature only pitched instruments for the soloist and no percussion at all in the orchestra. Thus in each of the seven movements Evelyn plays a different mallet instrument (glockenspiel, marimba, xylophone, chimes) stressing chords and tune, but never rhythm for its own sake.
The four elements of music are melody, harmony, counterpoint, and rhythm. Rhythm is the most dispensable.