Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, May 24 & 28

It’s hard to think of two composers more dissimilar than Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin—the arch-systematiser of tonal relations and the great American melodist—but the two were good friends and tennis buddies in Los Angeles, and when Gershwin died at the age of 38 (!) in 1937, Schoenberg recorded a spoken tribute to him almost astonishing in the fullness of its praise. This week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Lower East Side Tenement time—starts off with that encomium, then segues to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in—what else?—Leonard Bernstein’s version. Later on there’s some clarinet music from Don Byron and Jimmy Hamilton, and one of Schoenberg’s finest pieces that is also one of the easiest to take: his Piano Concerto of 1942, allegedly commissioned by Oscar Levant, and definitely performed by Glenn Gould. Then Gershwin’s American in Paris, also thanks to Lenny, and a performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto as gobsmackingly beautiful as any I’ve ever heard or dreamed of, by Sabine Myer, Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic. You could do worse than stopping by to listen for a couple of hours. Really.gershwinschoenberg

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