Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 11:25 am
Facing Bach's St. Matthew Passion, I often feel a combination of anticipation and dread. It's a great work, profound in its humanity and spirituality, with sublimely beautiful music. But it's a long haul, and if it's not a good performance, well, I'm stuck. And it can be not-good in various ways: either too solemnly pious or too much an exercise in musical style rather than emotional drama. A new DVD recorded in 2010 at Berlin's great concert hall, the Philharmonie, would be of major interest under any circumstances.
The late-night talk show format hasn't changed much since the 1950s. There's the opening monologue, a comedy bit, two celebrity interviews, and a musical guest. So it felt a bit odd to see Frank Ocean — a young man who embodies a particular changing of the guard in pop music — on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night. I was in the audience at Late Night, and actually, "waiting" to see Ocean would be more accurate, because that's what most of Monday's show entailed for the studio audience.