Raise your batons!
The utterly uproarious virtuosos violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-Ki Joo are at it again with their delightfully daft orchestral show “UpBeat.” A follow up to their “BIG Nightmare Music,” “UpBeat” takes audiences on a madcap musical ride with stops at every conceivable genre from Ravel to rock, from hip-hop beats to would you believe tee-hee-hees. The show makes its US debut on March 3, 2016, when the Seattle Symphony Orchestra plays straight man to Igudesman & Joo.
The words “strike up the band”—or in this case orchestra—never had a more deliciously raucous meaning than when they signal the appearance of the pair, who do double duty as both conductors and soloists throughout “Upbeat.” Of course this being Igudesman & Joo, a baton quickly turns into “a weapon of mass conduction,” and the tug-of-war over who gets to give the initial upbeat has the concert off to a tumultuous start.
The orchestral merry-go-round span “Ring in the Classics,” Igudesman & Joo’s symphonic Nokia ringtone poem commissioned by the New York Philharmonic; “Winter Polka,” an epic exercise in coughing; “Horror Movie,” a brilliant paean to the creaky and crackling, the squeaks and squeals, sounds that frighten the living daylights out of filmgoers; “An Austrian in America” commissioned by the Pittsburg Symphony to honor its conductor Manfred Honeck…or at least they hoped it would; loop-the-loop with “Ride of the Oy Veykyries,” a lively, klezmer-infused version of Wagner’s most famous piece sure to have the grim German spinning in his grave; “Rush Hour” where a Moscow traffic jam provides fodder; “You Just Have to Laugh,” a kaleidoscope of chuckles, guffaws, and ha-ha-has where the entire philharmonic gets the giggles singing along with the audience; and, as if Greece didn’t have enough woes, Igudesman tries his best to help the beleaguered country out in a schizophrenic finale “Zorba the Geek.”
What others say
“Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo played at my 80th birthday celebrations. I nearly died laughing. I’d like to invite them back for my 85th, but that might be considered reckless… Great musicians, great fun.”