Violinist Paul Giger appeared at the Corcoran Gallery Thursday evening in baggy chinos and a long gray drape. He began playing a violino d'amore--a bizarre instrument built to his specification that has five traditionally positioned strings, and six more sympathetic strings for enhanced frequencies--leaving the stage to walk about the edges of the auditorium as he bowed a constantly recurring melodic pattern (ostinato, in musical parlance). The ostinato at length gave way to white, vibratoless, whizzing sounds that in turn became angry--well, irritated--whispers. In time, lots of it, the whispers grew in amplitude to what seemed to be foghorn blasts. Along the way we heard Swiss mountain fiddling, Magyar yelps, glissandos so hushed they almost touched silence itself, polyrhythms, passages vaguely reminiscent of composers who wrote idiomatically for the violin, Far East arabesques and much else. After a while, though, the game of identify-the-reference waned in interest to near zero, as did the musical interest of what amounted to unrelated sound effects loosely slung together.
Some 40 minutes later, Giger stopped; the audience applauded. He picked up a traditional violin, donned ankle bells, played and stomped and jingled, strolled around the auditorium, removed the bells, found another ostinato and held onto it forever. Finally, mercifully, he stopped. Scattered, timid applause. To the joy of this intensely discomfited and exhausted reviewer, the recital was over.
By classical standards, Giger is not an accomplished violinist; by jazz standards, he has no ideas, no linearity; and by any other standard, including sheer entertainment, this was a long night of flapdoodle.