P.D.Q. Bach in Houston - We Have a Problem!

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Product Description

Studio: Acorn Media Release Date: 10/24/2006 Run time: 102 minutes Rating: Nr

P.D.Q. Bach can perhaps best be described as highbrow slapstick comedy for the musically minded. A skilled composer with a healthy sense of humor and a bent toward the absurd, Professor Peter Schickele is a musical satirist who juxtaposes "serious" classical music with folk tunes, comedic visual cues, farce, and instrumentation ranging from standard orchestral instruments to toy slide whistles, brass-double reed hybrids, and instruments cobbled together from strange components like shower hoses and cardboard tubes. The resulting crowd pleasers keep audiences laughing and wondering what can possibly come next. This 90-minute, live presentation features Peter Schickele and the "Orchestra X" chamber orchestra, is filmed in widescreen, and offers 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround sound. The program includes the "Desecration of the House Overture," of which the lead-in is by far the most climactic part, the "Schleptet in E-flat Major" which represents P.D.Q.'s "soused" period and is a true test of the wind section's fortitude, and "Iphigenia in Brooklyn" which features the double reeds (separate from the oboes and bassoons), the wine bottle played by Professor Schickele, and a "Bargain Counter Tenor" whose performance simply defies description. The "Unbegun Symphony" is an exercise in manic plagiarism and provides an abundance of laughs for the musically literate while the "New Horizons in Music Appreciation" makes Beethoven's Fifth Symphony accessible to the most die-hard sports fan. The "Fuga Meshuga" illustrates the art of the fugue in a whole new way and "The Seasonings" is a painfully funny demonstration of P.D.Q. Bach's original approach to instrumentation. As Professor Schickele declares in the bonus KUHT interview, it is a sense of context that truly provides the humor in P.D.Q. Bach's works--viewers possessing a sense of humor and a familiarity with classical music will laugh their way through this presentation, others may simply scratch their heads. --Tami Horiuchi

Customer Reviews:

  • Houston, we DO have a problem
    This concert video is a clear demonstration of the pitfalls of too-familiar material. While Peter Schickele's PDQ Bach material is as hysterical, intelligent, and quirky as ever, when the audience knows every joke before it happens, they just don't react with anything like the hysteria the music deserves. The result is a wan reception that seems to leave the orchestra, the soloists, and Professor Schickele confused, resentful, or just plain tired. It's almost painful to watch. The music is just as funny as it ever was -- but when the audience merely murmurs its appreciation and claps politely, it's hard to feel enthusiastic.

    If you've never heard PDQ Bach before, bypass this one and get one of the earlier recordings in which the audience screams, stomps, and falls out of their seats. If you're familiar with him and want to see a full performance, get the "Abduction of Figaro" tape or DVD. I guarantee you a better time....more info
  • Next best thing to being there ... just about
    A well-done program, for the most part -- in a few spots, the microphones were just too far away to catch everything properly. In particular, some of the sung lines sung aren't clear enough. Overall, though, if you've never had the pleasure of seeing a PDQ Bach show live, or even if you have, this is a worthwhile purchase. Just note that they don't actually play the "Desecration of the House Overture."...more info
  • Funny as hell
    Wonderful!!!! So good to see what's happening rather than just hearing it,...more info
  • Nearly a classic
    The concert DVD of some of P.D.Q. Bach's classic opuseses, presented and occasionally conducted by musicolologist Prof Schickele, is an excellent addition to any music lover's collection, whether or not they know why they like music in the first place. Good camera work and sound quality, along with the professor's laconic mini-lectures on the value of P.D.Q.'s music, bring to the screen what the LPs, cassettes and CDs have brought to our ears for years. The only drawback is that none of the members of the orchestra can act beyond the level of ten year olds, but this is to be expected. As a professional classical musician, I have found that very few have any sense of stage presence, so their gestures and expressions of befuddlement, impertinence and confusion are shot through with embarrassment or hints of begrudgement. Still, conductor Peter Jacoby and the soloists do an excellent job and the DVD's own extras make this a must-have. A shame that Schickele doesn't get at all excited (like he does on the original recording) during the sports commentary of Beethoven's Fifth; perhaps he's entered his Soused Period....more info
  • return to PDQ Bach
    I'm happy to see Professor Schickele return to his PDQ Bach routine! That is what he has does best in his performing career and I hope more is to continue. ...more info
  • Hilarious
    I saw the noble Professor in concert nearly 3 decades ago, and I'm glad to have finally found a DVD that has some of his on-stage humor. Maybe more perfomances (like perhaps the Stoned Guest...?) will show up on DVD...more info
  • Why are You Waiting? Buy it!!
    If you're a PDQ Back fan, this is a must buy.

    If you've never heard of PDQ Bach, this is STILL a must buy- a selection of the twenty-first of J. S. Bach's twenty children's most typical works, ranging from the "Fuga Meshuga" for quartet from "The Musical Sacrifice" up to the full orchestra, choir, and devious instruments of the grand orotario "The Seasonings."

    If you're a music buff, this is even more of a must buy- have fun spotting the things PDQ and his resurrector Prof. Peter Shickele stole from for their works, including Shickele's own "Unbegun Symphony."

    Add to this some concert hijinks which just can't be conveyed on album, and you have something without which no masochistic audiophile's collection is truly complete.

    My only regret is that all the music on this concert is already available on various albums (except for the first movement of "Iphegenia in Brooklyn"). One could only wish for an original PDQ Bach "discovery" to have been unveiled for this concert. Still, despite this, it's still- I must say it again- a must buy.

    (By the way, be sure to check out the special features- not all the music is in the main concert video!)...more info
  • Recordings are funnier
    The P.D.Q. Bach franchise has had some hilarious recordings. Because of this it would seem it would be even funnier to see them performed. The choir is in robes, but of terry cloth not polyester. It's fun to see the wacky instruments and shenanigans happening in 'concert' with the music.

    But, Schickele has been presenting these concerts for over 40 years - and it shows. The pacing is slow and the humor lacks energy. He attempts to take a rope down to the concert stage but ends up falling in a pile. This would be funny if he were a fit, young Tim Conway. But he's not - instead I was concerned he might have broken a hip. Other gags are momentarily funny but not for the entire time they take to run their course.

    It's a nice trip down memory lane but probably more worth a rental....more info
  • Classical -- With a Twist
    If you love classical music, but can enjoy a good parody, this is a concert for you. Having a good background in music theory comes in handy to truly appreciate the way Schickle has shifted keys, combined themes, etc. Having performed "The Seasonings", I understand just how difficult these pieces truly are. It's great fun....more info


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