Diabelli Variation reviewed

The Diabelli Variation made its debut last Sunday night, along with 24 other take-offs on the famous theme immortalized by Beethoven, all to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Network for New Music. The night was fun from beginning to end and was more fun, I confess, than I thought it would be. It was a hoot. A hoot and a half. Why don’t more groups do things like this? I liked everything, loved some things, and wanted to steal a few bits: it was everything a composer could want from a concert. Peter Dobrin from the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote it up on the Tuesday following, and said this about my hog-wild 90 seconds:

Smith’s Diabelli Variation was an extravagant gesture for piano alone, with something of Britten in it, played with appropriate drama by Charles Abramovic.

The rest of his review is here. I didn’t envy him the job of assessing such a gallimaufry of styles from all these Philadelphia composers, younger, older, and everywhere in between. But he appropriately took into account the spirit of the evening. Britten, what do I know, who doesn’t like Britten? Well, there is something of Peter Grimes going through my head right now, trying to insinuate itself into a new piece I’m writing. Maybe there’s something to it.

Jan Krzywicki was the lion of the night, for programming the order, conducting some, and composing the finale which hilariously aped all the preceding variations. Over all was Linda Reichert, Network’s Music Director and founder. The ovation that met her when she first walked onto the stage to introduce the concert was stunning in its fervor. And absolutely right.

We all wish Network another 25.


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