13 June 2016

Review: NZTrio at Q Loft

NZTrio: ZOOM

Justine Cormack, violin; Ashley Brown, cello; Sarah Watkins, piano

Q Theatre Loft, Sunday 12 June 2016

John Musto, Piano Trio
Chris Watson, Schemata – Three Views of an Imaginary Object
Elliott Carter, Epigrams
Alexander Zemlinsky, Piano Trio in D Minor op. 3

Review by Alex Taylor

NZTrio has been able to attract and sustain a substantial and committed audience over its lifetime as an ensemble. It’s my view that that has a lot to do with the trio’s programming: there is always a huge (sometimes bewildering) variety of styles, and always something to suit any tastes. Sunday night was no exception: the late Romantic Alexander Zemlinsky, the jazz borrowings of John Musto, and the post-Webernian modernism of Elliott Carter and Chris Watson.

For me the potpourri approach to programming succeeds on paper: it gets people interested and builds an audience from different corners of taste and experience. But I think it’s less successful in practice; personally I find it more satisfying to be able to draw connections across a whole concert. So it’s pleasing to see that the second and third concerts in NZTrio’s Loft series, GLOW and FLARE, have a more tangible sense of focus.

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John Musto’s Piano Trio showcased NZTrio’s characteristic precision and skill as an ensemble, the strings gliding elegantly over a piano-driven groove. Works built on ostinati and rhythmic patterning can often become rather earnest and wearing, but Musto’s trio mostly swung seamlessly from section to section, never jarring or forced. Nevertheless it was a relief when pulse-laden material gave way to spacious harmonic play in the second movement; this was Musto at his most sophisticated, with hints of Schoenberg and Thelonious Monk. Sarah Watkins gave us a dazzling opening to the finale with coruscating ascending scales, heralding a return to clean and compact showpiece.

NZTrio are generally masters of the pointed attack, and conversely of the more delicate feathery textures, but for me, this kind of jazz-heavy work needs a weightier, more grounded groove to lift it beyond merely a collection of stylish rhythm changes. Championing as they do the works of composers that draw on jazz and popular musics, the trio could polish further their impeccable technique with a deeper understanding of phrasing and articulation in those genres.

Having been written more than a hundred years before anything else on the programme, Zemlinsky’s youthful D Minor trio felt a mite out of place here, its closest cousin the neo-Romantic Musto. Pushing against the already fraying edges of Romantic tonality, Zemlinsky invoked Strauss in his relentless harmonic oscillations and lyrical intensity. In the intimate loft acoustic, the opening strains were rather strident, but the work itself is already unavoidably lush and dense, and the trio did well to sustain the line and drama through all Zemlinsky’s harmonic tangents. By the end of the three substantial movements I was in need of a palette cleanser.

Earlier, Chris Watson packed all the tension and surprise of a full-length work into three minutes of shudders and scurries with Schemata, guiding the ear through the corridors and crevices of an imaginary object. Here Cormack, Brown and especially Watkins were flexible but articulate, all the detail of phrasing in the score conveyed with impressive conviction.

On paper Watson’s Schemata and Elliott Carter’s Epigrams seem like a natural fit side by side in the programme, but in performance they revealed their differences in tone and temperament. If Watson’s Schemata had all the tactile finesse and shade of architectural sketches, Carter’s Epigrams were craggy, cryptic hieroglyphs.

At the age of 103 Carter neither wasted nor repeated a single idea; Epigrams is an unapologetic series of statements without ornament. That’s not to say that this is insensitive music; the hard edges – and stoic resistance to groove – threw into relief the more lyrical and fragile elements. Duets of glassy harmonics and tight scrambles of pizzicato were interwoven with raw blocks and dots of sound. Where Watson followed the tiniest inflections and curves, the instruments hanging and sliding off one another, in Carter’s work they felt brutally at odds, irretrievably perpendicular or parallel.


20 May 2016

Review: Karlheinz Company

Review: Karlheinz Company

University of Auckland School of Music, Sunday 15 May 2016

Eve de Castro-Robinson, Director

Callum Blackmore, voice
Stephen de Pledge, piano
Alex Taylor, conductor, voice
Jonathan Dunlop, harpsichord
Rachel Song, piano
Amy Hsu, organ
Cynthia Hsu, harp
John Coulter, Irazema Vera, Clovis McEvoy, John Kim, microphones
Matt Ball, tenor saxophone
Clare Hood, Amy Jansen, Stephanie Dow, Nathan Hauraki, Ben Kubiak, voices
Elizabeth Holowell, Stella Kim, violins; Julie Park, viola; Martin Roberts, cello

Gyorgy Ligeti: Continuum
Jack Body: Turtle Time
Pierre Boulez: Notations (selections)
Alex Taylor: vis-a-vis
Anthony Young: Leave Your Light On
Steve Reich: Pendulum Music
John Grant: Queen of Denmark
Clovis McEvoy: Change Blindness
Eve de Castro-Robinson: Cries of Auckland


Review by Jay Greenberg


If there was an overarching theme to the Karlheinz Company’s annual concert, Turtle Time, on Sunday, it was nostalgia.  In her spoken introduction, Eve de Castro-Robinson, the Company’s artistic director, made reference to the 1960s, describing it as an anarchic and experimental decade when “anything was possible”, whereas the present day had lost that spirit. The programme included three works from 1968, a pivotal year in both music and history, along with a series of tributes to two of 2016’s musical casualties—Pierre Boulez and David Bowie—and also featuring thematically unrelated but emotionally appropriate interpretations of USA songwriter John Grant by Alex Taylor and a recent de Castro-Robinson work by a gaggle of School of Music students and staff.

György Ligeti’s Continuum for double-manual harpsichord, the first of the three 1968 works presented, was characteristically described in the programme notes as bristling and somewhat abrasive. That description certainly applies to many of the surviving contemporary accounts, such as Elisabeth Chojnacka’s first recording for Philips in the 1970s. It was a surprise therefore to hear such a lyrical and fluid performance, whether due to harpsichordist Jonathan Dunlop or the instrument itself. Ligeti’s three-and-a-half minute piece, in perpetual motion, moves from stasis on a rapid, overlapping G-Bb tremolo to encompass a wider range of notes, gradually climbing into the high register to end once more in stasis on a high Fb. In Dunlop’s hands it sounded less mechanistic and more expressive, bringing out the sense of an unbroken “continuum” of sound quite strongly but without some of the clarity necessary to bring out the work’s duality of tiny, detached individual sounds vs. the effect of a seamless whole.

Jack Body’s Turtle Time, which lent its title to the concert, was the “main event” not only for its duration but also because it had apparently gone unperformed in Auckland since its premiere, according to de Castro-Robinson’s opening remarks.  It was also in its way a commemoration, Body having passed away on the same day as last year’s Karlheinz Company concert. In both scoring and material Body’s work could be described as proto-Boulezian—the ensemble of piano, harpsichord, harp and Hammond organ recalling works such as Répons and Sur Incises, except that they would not appear until 1980 and 1998 respectively. The material, moving between free, isolated gestures and more continuous ensemble passages, is practically a distillation of the Darmstadtian trends of its era, recalling Boulez mostly in its sonic vividness and sensuality. At the same time, to this ensemble (conducted energetically and effectively by Alex Taylor), Body added a recitation of a poem by New Zealand poet Russell Haley—prerecorded in his original conception, but here delivered somewhat bombastically by Callum Blackmore. This recalls the role of the speaker in Luciano Berio’s Laborintus II (1965) and Sinfonia (1968), among the first of Berio’s works to incorporate collage-like techniques and therefore part of the great aesthetic diversification of the European avant-garde following the breakup of the Boulez-Nono-Stockhausen trinity.

In uniting these two musical “directions” of the 1960s Body’s work practically stood in for Darmstadt itself, as Ligeti represented the Central European avant-garde and Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music would later represent the New York School. Whilst it was among the most effective works on the programme—and the use of an important New Zealand poem poached a number of literary figures from the Writer’s Festival events of the same day—there is a sense in which Body’s work felt like a survey of musical techniques that took his fancy rather than a genuinely personal work. Indeed, it was only shortly thereafter that his encounter with Indonesian classical music paved the way for his departure towards a new, totally idiosyncratic style. It must be added that both the Boulezian icy, glittering, almost “neo-Debussy” style of the instrumental music and the use of recitation are devices that have become somewhat dated in the intervening forty-eight years. The five Boulez Notations that followed, played with panache and a full range of piano colour by Stephen de Pledge—the oldest works on the programme, written in the 1940s, though among the most appealing—were in turn followed by an additional “Notation” in the form of Alex Taylor’s vis-à-vis, a tribute to Boulez, which brought the widened range of expression and greater concentration on isolated gestures of Boulez’s mature music. Nonetheless there was not a sense that one had travelled very far from 1945 in musical terms; nor is there such a sense in Boulez’s own work of the 1990s and 2000s.

The first half then concluded with de Pledge’s performance of another tribute, Anthony Young’s Leave Your Light On, commemorating David Bowie. Though beginning in the kind of stasis that had dominated the programme so far, the piece built up its tiny, simplistic ostinato ideas to a climax that gradually faded into piano resonance. It was also the first piece of the evening to introduce diatonic, tonal harmonies, and to make explicit the sense of retrospection. One thing that certainly was not evoked during the concert was that anarchic and experimental spirit of the 1960s; perhaps the performances allowed listeners to recollect and reflect upon the era, like a memory of a vanished childhood, but in and of themselves they had little of the visionary and immediate, or for that matter the experimental and fun. For example Reich’s Pendulum Music, which followed interval and required the complex assembly and disassembly of four speakers and four hanging microphones, was conceived as both “kind of funny” (in the composer’s words) and as homage to John Cage. Sonically the most arresting of the items presented, based entirely on the feedback caused by the microphones approaching the speakers as they swing across the stage like pendulums, it dates to Reich’s most experimental period and before he turned to writing for conventional instruments. The fun, however, was transmuted into gentle irony by the presentation, the four performers picking up and releasing their microphones with infinite care before seating themselves gravely on the fringes of the stage; a performance more ritual than “happening”.

Once the stage had been cleared Alex Taylor returned to perform John Grant’s Queen of Denmark as singer and pianist. As another lyrically driven work it served as parallel to Turtle Time in the first half, though in this case without much musical content to enhance or detract from the text. Taylor’s singing voice, warm and grainy with tinges of hoarseness and vocal fry, superbly suited the song in both style and substance.  A second tribute to David Bowie, Clovis McEvoy’s Change Blindness for solo saxophone, gradually moved from key clicks and fully voiced sounds with special attention paid to the liminal states in between the two, all within a one-minute fragment of great kinetic energy—resembling the bass line of, say, a rock song. The work, which calls for a degree of improvisation, was tossed off with great dash and bravura by Matt Ball. Unlike Young’s Bowie tribute, which was based on a specific song, McEvoy did not make clear if any of the rock musician’s compositions were meant as inspiration. The exuberance of the performance also marked the only real break in the predominantly nostalgic tone of the concert.

The closing item, de Castro-Robinson’s Cries of Auckland for vocal sextet and string quartet, looked back explicitly to political protests of the 1980s onwards: the bulk of its texts recall the anti-apartheid unrest against the 1981 South African national rugby union tour, gradually morphing into 21st century protests against global capitalism. Through presenting this work at the culmination of the programme de Castro-Robinson presumably intended to draw a link between her experiences as a politically engaged New Zealander and the political upheavals and revolutions that swept the rest of the world in the 1960s. The text and music were better integrated than in the other two textual works presented, with the protest slogans used almost more as sonic objects than semantic ones. Imitative writing between voices and strings set up a fairly dense climax, incorporating traditional tonality as a “found object” and finally bringing in a bass drum and megaphone to signify a breakdown of musical order. In the performance, all six vocalists left the stage at this moment. Despite its promise of noise and political defiance, this proved to be a basically retrospective and nostalgic piece as well; the defiance more remembered than actual, the noise more comfortable than disturbing. To some extent the performance styles chosen by the vocalists played into this as well; beginning and end contrasted Nathan Hauraki’s belted, half-spoken tenor with Clare Hood’s quasi-lieder recital soprano, and the use of more “classical”-style singing throughout the piece clarified the relationship of voices to strings but in some respect did disservice to what had been, essentially, shouts of hundreds of people in unison. The music’s final dissolution gave an impression of looking back from a great distance.

A successful concert with a highly positive audience response, filling the University of Auckland’s Music Theatre close to capacity, Turtle Time was certainly enjoyable from a musical point of view, and gave Aucklanders the chance to hear music rarely if ever performed in this country and a taste of contemporary NZ composition. At the same time, as homage to the 60s it was problematic. One wonders if that “anarchic, experimental” spirit might not be better served by presenting works that are truly cutting-edge and boundary-pushing, that retain the old view that “anything is possible”—as have occasionally featured in past Karlheinz Company concerts—rather than an evening of memories, retrospectives and tributes.

28 April 2016

From the Archives: Pre-concert Talk - "Inspired by Jazz"

This talk was given on 16 July 2015 before the Auckland Philharmonia's "Inspired by Jazz" concert. The programme was the overture to Gershwin's Girl Crazy, Copland's Clarinet Concerto (with soloist Julian Bliss), Bernstein's Prelude Fugue and Riffs, and Russo's Street Music: A Blues Concerto (with harmonica soloist Corky Siegel). 

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Classical music and jazz might seem to many to be irreconcilable opposites, chalk and cheese, black and white. One is thought of as being spontaneous, improvised, the other laboriously worked out and written down; one aspires to teleological long forms, the other usually employing short circular, repetitive forms, or series of “changes”; one swings, the other doesn't. These are the perceptions, often used to justify the superiority of one over the other. But with the explosion of musical styles in the twentieth century, classical and jazz have come into contact an awful lot. Those intersection points take all sorts of forms – collaboration, juxtaposition, antipathy, conflict, fusion. Tonight we'll  hear a lot of that, and hopefully too we might also have our prejudices shaken, on what jazz, classical, music can be.

I'd like to take a minute to acknowledge the wonderful job of the APO's artistic team, putting together another very creative and engaging concert programme. Far from being a variety show or potpourri of orchestrated jazz numbers, this evening's concert does what a good programme should: allows the listener to draw connections, and take away some questions to ponder.

George Gershwin might be the very first name one associates with jazz in the concert hall: Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris – we all know exactly what Gershwin sounds like, effortless tunesmith and skilled entertainer that he is. Gershwin's overture to Girl Crazy is pumped full of adapted vocal hit tunes from the musical, and rather than strictly being influenced by jazz, it's Gershwin reaching the other way, intensifying his Tin Pan Alley textures with classical forces.

Gershwin's style sits easily with the orchestra because of its lyrical origins and the pragmatic orchestration, leaving the driving syncopations to the brass and the sweeping tunes to the strings. Like many of Gershwin's orchestral works it's a medley, a series of connected episodes rather than a fully integrated long-form movement.

The original Broadway production of Girl Crazy not only made overnight sensations out of Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers, but the pit orchestra included a number of what would become the great bandleaders of the following years – Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey and Benny Goodman.

The tunes in the overture include Embraceable You, I Got Rhythm, But Not For Me and Bronco Busters. It's not dissimilar in its railroad rhythms and soaring strings to Gershwin's breakout hit, Rhapsody in Blue six years earlier. Although we won't hear Rhapsody tonight we will hear more than once that definitive clarinet glissando, or “smear” that opens the work:

Rhapsody in Blue opening

American conductor Kenneth Woods says of Gershwin, “I suppose what really sets his classical pieces apart is the extent to which he is able to straddle the worlds of jazz and classical music so masterfully. I think he and Bernstein were the only composers who could do that consistently, and people have been trying to equal them for many generations without much success.”

It can't be said convincingly that this is what Aaron Copland was attempting when he wrote his Clarinet Concerto in 1949. In the same way perhaps that Charlie Parker's coruscating solos and eye-wateringly fast bebop tempi could be said to have something of the manic mechanistic modernism of Edgard Varese, so too Copland here has the spirit of latin jazz; Copland himself describes it as “an unconscious fusion” of elements of American music and his own vernacular style. But it's not a deliberate attempt to meet halfway between two quite distinct languages.

Of the four works on tonight's programme, Copland's is the one who treats its medium, i.e. the orchestra, with the most care and craft, subtly adapting the body of strings to both lyrical and percussive effect. There is certainly the colour and spirit of jazz at the fringes but also a keen awareness of the fundamental difference  - not only in timbre and texture but most significantly in articulation and phrasing – between a string orchestra and, say, a Benny Goodman swing band. Copland could be said to be just as much influenced by Mahler and Stravinsky as by jazz. Nevertheless there are a couple of important connections between him and Gershwin.

One is that glissando we heard earlier –

The second is the commissioner and intended soloist, Benny Goodman. You'll remember Goodman played clarinet in the original pit orchestra for Gershwin's Girl Crazy, and by the 1940s he was one of the leading clarinettists and bandleaders in the United States. Having been immersed in the swing scene, Goodman was introduced to bebop in the mid 40s, where he saw Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk and co pushing the boundaries of the art form, perhaps jazz's equivalent of Schoenberg and Stravinsky's modernism three decades earlier. Although Goodman didn't go down the bebop path, he was interested in expanding and developing jazz, and sought out many of the leading classical composers for commissions. Along with Copland, Goodman commissioned new pieces by Bartok, Poulenc, Hindemith, Arnold, and re-learned to play the clarinet with a classical embouchure.

Benny Goodman said of the Copland commission, “I made no demands on what Copland should write. He had completely free rein.”

A third connection between the first two composers on the programme is the reception they received from the American public. While Gershwin tapped into a vein of popular support with his orchestral colorations of Tin Pan Alley, Copland was chastised for trying to jazz up his music. Invoking Richard Taruskin, Zach Wallmark describes the phenomenon: “Critics placed Copland and Gershwin on different points in the racially-tinged spectrum of high vs low art. Where Copland was seen to sully the good name of concert music by contaminating it with the lowly “animalistic” sounds of jazz, Gershwin – in his elegant treatments of Tin Pan Alley forms that never strayed too far from their original – was perceived as the great redeemer of jazz by elevating it to the level of concert music. The messy sociostylistic problems of Jewish composers appropriating African-American forms for the consumption of predominantly WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) audiences was, indeed, a delicate dance that required extreme finesse to really “sell”. In this respect, Copland seemed to have had two left feet.”

Although there's certainly a disparity between how the two composers were perceived in relation to jazz, and perhaps also a disparity in their commercial nous, Gershwin and Copland did have something in common. Both were able to adapt the various folk musics of their age into their own unique musical style, styles which were both enormously influential on American music-making in the 20th century.

Copland's clarinet concerto itself is a masterclass in balance and pacing – two entirely contrasting movements linked by a dazzling cadenza. The first movement with its aching, arching lines, expressive yet never sentimental, is the perfect foil to the offbeat squareness of the second, which has an infectious groove even though it perhaps wisely never really tries to swing. Imagine Benny Goodman stepping up to the podium for what seemed like a delicately beautiful yet undeniably fairly straight elegiac piece, before pivoting on that cadenza into a bristling display of musical fireworks. You can hear in the sparkplug cadenza and the finale that grows from it the seeds of Bernstein's musical language: Latin rhythms, clean, sharp syncopations, almost to the point of caricature, and a flair for the theatrical.

Copland concerto 2nd mvmt opening

Benny Goodman was not the only bandleader reaching out to classical composers for new work. Stravinsky wrote his Ebony Concerto for Woody Herman and his First Herd in 1945. Writing for a big band of trumpets, trombones and saxophones, a rhythm section, and a couple of bizarre extras at his own request, Stravinsky claimed to be “unnerved by [his own] lack of familiarity with this sort of thing.” Herman's own first reaction to the work when it arrived was that he found it “grotesque” and awkward to play, but perhaps it is this grotesque awkwardness, this resistance to fusion, that has made the Ebony Concerto an enduring, if indiosyncratic, work of art. Herman recalled later, “after the very first rehearsal, at which we were all so embarrassed we were nearly crying because nobody could read, Stravinsky walked over and put his arm around me and said, 'Ah, what a beautiful family you have.'"

I mention the Ebony Concerto not just because it's a fascinating work, but because it's an interesting example of the difficulties and fragilities of collaboration and “fusion”, and because Herman also commissioned Leonard Bernstein a few years later.

Writing for standard big band line-up, Bernstein's work Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, written in 1949 – the same year as Copland's Clarinet Concerto - presents a more straightforwardly jazz idiom, calling to mind Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Gershwin among others. Bernstein was the Thomas Ades of his time – conductor, pianist, composer and musical magpie. Bernstein famously said of the diversity of jazz as a genre, “it is all jazz, and I love it all.”

In fact it was not Woody Herman and his herd that gave the premiere of Prelude, Fugue and Riffs but Benny Goodman – to whom the work is now dedicated.

The version you are going to hear tonight is a transcription for orchestra by Lukas Foss, a very interesting composer in his own right and a good friend of Bernstein – Foss also conducted the premiere of Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. I have to say I'm not entirely convinced by the Foss arrangement – Bernstein's original movements are titled Prelude (for the Brass), Fugue (for the Saxes), and Riffs (for Everyone), and for me they lose a bit of their edge and  groove in the transition to the orchestral medium. You can make up your own mind – here is a snippet of the original first movement

Bernstein Prelude Fugue and Riffs 1st mvmt

Along with Benny Goodman and Woody Herman, a third influential clarinettist-bandleader, Artie Shaw, had already been experimenting with fusing classical music and jazz in the 1930s. This is his Interlude in Bb, featuring solo clarinet with strings and rhythm section

Artie Shaw Interlude in Bb

This was an embryonic form of what later came to be know as the Third Stream; neither classical, nor jazz, but something in between. Gunther Schuller, who coined the term, described it thus - “It is not jazz with strings. It is not jazz played on 'classical' instruments. It is not classical music played by jazz players. It is not inserting a bit of Ravel or Schoenberg between be-bop changes—nor the reverse. It is not jazz in fugal form. It is not a fugue played by jazz players. It is not designed to do away with jazz or classical music; it is just another option amongst many for today’s creative musicians.”

While it's unlikely you could get away with calling Gershwin, Copland or Bernstein Third Stream composers, seeing as their works involve little or no improvisation and they're not attempting a conscious fusion of classical and jazz, one composer who might fall into that category is William Russo, whose Harmonica Concerto Street Music you will hear tonight.

Street Music: A Blues Concerto was released by Deutsche Grammaphon in 1979 alongside Gershwin's American in Paris and Russo's own Three Pieces for Blues Band and Symphony Orchestra, which had been a big hit for the record label. Russo's compositions were championed by Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, who originally suggested to Corky Siegel and Russo the idea of combining blues and classical music. Siegel, whom you'll hear tonight with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, was the original soloist.

Russo's work is centred on the blues but flits between all sorts of musical styles, a kind of rough-hewn musicological document as well as a virtuosic entertainment. Compared to the suave Gershwin or the craftsmanly Copland, Russo's string writing is often awkward, even clunky, but the visceral charisma of the harmonica part holds it up as something unique. Siegel describes the fusion as more of a juxtaposition in a recent interview with William Dart: “"We didn't want a symphony orchestra backing a blues band, or a blues band playing classical music. The aim was to juxtapose our different music and maintain our individual character," he explains. "As I said to Seiji, let's start with Charles Ives' Music for Two Marching Bands and move on from there."

Although each of these compositions may well appeal to different tastes and not all work all the time, it's interesting to look at them as documents of collaboration: Goodman and Copland, Siegel and Russo and Ozawa. Compare the respect and the awareness of the difficulty of true collaboration here with our current obsession with cross-over, and especially with attaching a faded pop superstar to a classical project in the hope of broadening audience appeal, or improving “accessibility”, whatever that means. Thus large arts institutions have got into a habit of ignoring the leading composers of the day and in their place commissioning Paul McCartney to write a ballet called Ocean's Kingdom or Rufus Wainwright to compose an opera that sounds like mediocre Puccini in French. Commercial imperatives leading to bad artistic decisions.

Another observation is that fusion performs a kind of musicological role, creating a dialogue between genres, and also documenting the trends and idiosyncracies of our times. In our highly targeted, niche market world, art that crosses genre and precipitate new interactions will I think continue to flourish.

So perhaps rather than trying to pigeonhole and categorise, jazz, classical, Third Stream, fusion, it's best primarily just to listen. Music critic Alex Ross recounts this story: “In Vienna, in 1928, Gershwin met his idol, Alban Berg, who had the Kolisch Quartet play him the “lyric suite”. Gershwin then sat down at the piano, but hesitated, wondering aloud whether he was worthy of the occasion. “Mr Gershwin,” Berg said sternly, “music is music.”