Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 2/19 & Tues 2/23


What kind of show is this anyway? Starts off with a piece of Chaplin’s climactic rant from The Great Dictator, leaps into the middle of Shostakovich’s 10th and then straight to Dear Old Stockholm with Miles and Trane, whence Trane goes to Russia via lullaby while Mr. Rollins takes Manhattan, only so that Weill can report from Berlin. This week’s Updoc—8PM Friday and noon next Tuesday, Right Heah Noo Yawk fuggin time—finally settles down with Herbert von Karajan conducting Shosta’s 10th in Berlin 1969: a recording new to me, and a far more vital, rugged, and startling performance than his classic ’67 studio date for DGG, though with markedly less-good sonics. As Miles put it: so what. Listen: Lenny and the Nooyawkas stopping by Moskva in ’59 with a landmark version of Shosta’s 5th was one thing—the war may have been nukey but it was cold, man, cold. But this, this was a German orchestra, a West German orchestra, THE West German orchestra, conducted by a former Nazi party member (with an excuse: Karajan’s wife was Jewish, and membership was his protection gambit, and it worked), and with so many million dead in the War, you bet the Russians had a long memory. The composer was present and the challenge was high; the always smooth Karajan Berliners lost their cool, played to their limit and then went for broke beyond it. It’s the great mid-20th century symphony, and this performance of it will rock you sock you, as it did the guy what wrote it. We taper off with Jascha Horenstein conducting Mahler’s Der Abschied to a pitch of eerie greatness, and speaking of rock you sock you, how could I finish this show with anything but Kendrick Lamar’s face-peeling performance at the Grammys? Shosta’s 10th took a prize there too, in an okay new Boston version, but if you want the existential experience, hey, you, listen here.

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