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Richard's Warsaw Concerto, thumbs up/thumbs down

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
There has been discussion on another thread about Richard's "piano prowess". How do you feel about the Warsaw Concerto during their performances? Was it there just to stroke Richard's ego or did it add to the enjoyment of their performance? The earliest I have seen it concerning the Carpenters was in 1974 when he performed it at the "Boston Pops" special on PBS. But it is still integrated in their concerts as late as the 1976 "New London Theater" BBC special. To me, it didn't fit. So I give it a "thumbs down". Any of the members that actually went to a Carpenters performance, did you witness it first hand? Were you spellbound? Please chime in.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
I give it a thumbs up; although, I much enjoyed his performance of Slaughter on 10th Avenue much more (super hard to find, but I remember it when he performed with the Garden Grove Symphony back in the late 1980's and on an accompanying album).

Anyway, I think his performance of the Warsaw Concerto served multiple purposes: 1) It gave time for Karen to take a break and have a change of wardrobe; 2) Being that Carpenters audiences varied widely by age (kids to grandparents), it was something for the much older demographic in their audience; and, 3) It showed that these "kids from Downey" were not just a fly-by-night commercial pop act, but are "serious" musicians. I think it succeeds in all three categories. Is it something I listen to often? No. Mostly, it seems, discussions like this, are a vehicle to further denigrate Richard in this false either/or Richard vs. Karen narrative: anything Richard does well is viewed negatively as it takes away from Karen, and everything Karen does is excellent even if it isn't in some instances.

Carpenters are/were a DUO. Both contributed equally to make great music. Both were/are good individually, but the magic was in the collaboration. We could ask the same question about Karen's drum solo with Strike up the Band: Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?
 

Simon KC1950

Well-Known Member
Hmmmm. It is a big piece and Richard deserved to showcase his talents like that, which he does but when you look at '76 set list and see the stuff that doesn't appear on the Live At The Palladium album, it is a wonder why it made it all the way to the album, whilst others did not like:

-"I Need To Be In Love"
-"Close To You" (Spike Jones)
- the Grease Medley
-"These Are The Jokes Folks"
-"Good Vibrations/Coming Thru The Rye".

I would rather have most of these on the album than the concerto.
 

GaryAlan

Well-Known Member
Thumbs UP for me !
Especially, Richard's WC as performed on Boston Pops,
the more I watch that 1974 program, the more I like.....
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I give it a thumbs up; although, I much enjoyed his performance of Slaughter on 10th Avenue much more (super hard to find, but I remember it when he performed with the Garden Grove Symphony back in the late 1980's and on an accompanying album).

Anyway, I think his performance of the Warsaw Concerto served multiple purposes: 1) It gave time for Karen to take a break and have a change of wardrobe; 2) Being that Carpenters audiences varied widely by age (kids to grandparents), it was something for the much older demographic in their audience; and, 3) It showed that these "kids from Downey" were not just a fly-by-night commercial pop act, but are "serious" musicians. I think it succeeds in all three categories. Is it something I listen to often? No. Mostly, it seems, discussions like this, are a vehicle to further denigrate Richard in this false either/or Richard vs. Karen narrative: anything Richard does well is viewed negatively as it takes away from Karen, and everything Karen does is excellent even if it isn't in some instances.

Carpenters are/were a DUO. Both contributed equally to make great music. Both were/are good individually, but the magic was in the collaboration. We could ask the same question about Karen's drum solo with Strike up the Band: Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?
Very good points on your response Geographer!

As for;

We could ask the same question about Karen's drum solo with Strike up the Band: Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?

I would vote "thumbs down" for Karen's drum solo also. To me it seemed schmaltzy. I would much prefer the "Grease" comedy bit they did with Richard coming out riding the motorcycle and Karen done-up in her beehive hairdo and falsies!
 

goodjeans

Active Member
There has been discussion on another thread about Richard's "piano prowess". How do you feel about the Warsaw Concerto during their performances? Was it there just to stroke Richard's ego or did it add to the enjoyment of their performance? The earliest I have seen it concerning the Carpenters was in 1974 when he performed it at the "Boston Pops" special on PBS. But it is still integrated in their concerts as late as the 1976 "New London Theater" BBC special. To me, it didn't fit. So I give it a "thumbs down". Any of the members that actually went to a Carpenters performance, did you witness it first hand? Were you spellbound? Please chime in.
I witnessed it twice.
Twice too many times.
Thank you.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
Very good points on your response Geographer!

As for;

We could ask the same question about Karen's drum solo with Strike up the Band: Thumbs up or Thumbs Down?

I would vote "thumbs down" for Karen's drum solo also. To me it seemed schmaltzy. I would much prefer the "Grease" comedy bit they did with Richard coming out riding the motorcycle and Karen done-up in her beehive hairdo and falsies!
I agree in the sense that both "performances" (Concerto and Strike Up) probably worked well at a concert or on DVD as done live; however, on an album, not so much. I wonder if the Grease stuff would work on an album, too, given that you don't see the Karen in her falsies. Can the music "stand alone," I guess I'm asking, without the visuals?
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Thumbs down from me; not because it doesn’t show off his musical prowess, but it had no place in a pop concert and smacked of self-indulgence. It brings to mind producer Bob Henry’s observation that watching someone play piano can be “I won’t say dull, but - after a while - a little uninteresting”. Karen’s drum solo, on the other hand, was and remains thoroughly entertaining and a delight to watch.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
The problem is, on an album like "Live at the Palladium," we are not "watching" anything. We are listening. These might work at a concert, but probably don't belong on an album.
The thread question was in relation to the stage performances, not listening to the same tracks on an album. As audio-only, Warsaw Concerto is even more boring.
 

Geographer

Well-Known Member
The thread question was in relation to the stage performances, not listening to the same tracks on an album. As audio-only, Warsaw Concerto is even more boring.
Then I go back to my original assessment:

"
I think his performance of the Warsaw Concerto served multiple purposes: 1) It gave time for Karen to take a break and have a change of wardrobe; 2) Being that Carpenters audiences varied widely by age (kids to grandparents), it was something for the much older demographic in their audience; and, 3) It showed that these "kids from Downey" were not just a fly-by-night commercial pop act, but are "serious" musicians. I think it succeeds in all three categories. Is it something I listen to often? No."
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Hmmmm. It is a big piece and Richard deserved to showcase his talents like that, which he does but when you look at '76 set list and see the stuff that doesn't appear on the Live At The Palladium album, it is a wonder why it made it all the way to the album, whilst others did not like:

-"I Need To Be In Love"
-"Close To You" (Spike Jones)
- the Grease Medley
-"These Are The Jokes Folks"
-"Good Vibrations/Coming Thru The Rye".

I would rather have most of these on the album than the concerto.
Close To You" (Spike Jones)

Another "bit" that they did that I cannot stand. It's lame beyond belief.

AND throw in Cinderella Rockafella too. Cute at first, but got old very quickly.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Then I go back to my original assessment:

"
I think his performance of the Warsaw Concerto served multiple purposes: 1) It gave time for Karen to take a break and have a change of wardrobe; 2) Being that Carpenters audiences varied widely by age (kids to grandparents), it was something for the much older demographic in their audience; and, 3) It showed that these "kids from Downey" were not just a fly-by-night commercial pop act, but are "serious" musicians. I think it succeeds in all three categories. Is it something I listen to often? No."
I remember going to see Neil Sedaka in concert and around two thirds into the show, he unveiled a new original classical piece that lasted around six minutes. It was at this point that many of the audience got up to go to the bathroom or the bar. That’s what dropping a classical piece of music into a pop concert does for the ebb and flow of the show. Richard could quite easily have talked to the audience about his musical heritage and upbringing for a few minutes, his days at Disneyland and then played something like Flat Baroque (had they not used it for the 1976 concert intro), which is, shorter, much more fun and engaging and would have involved the band.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
For those of you that attended the 50th Anniversary celebration back in April, you might remember the Ned Mills/Sally Olsen show that was put on at the hotel. Recall it was based on the Carpenters 1976 New London Theater Show. When it came time for the part where the Warsaw Concerto was to be played, Ned (who seemed like a pretty good pianist) broke into a "Gershwin Medley". I found it very enjoyable as the melodies were instantly recognizable and it was beautifully done. It flowed with the whole presentation. I'm so glad he did not actually play the WC!
 

Portlander

Well-Known Member
Thumbs sideways. The Warsaw Concerto and the Strike up the Band drum solo gave both Karen and Richard an opportunity to showcase their talents so I get it. However, as much as I enjoyed watching Karen run around the stage showing off her percussion skills it became way too familiar and over done in my opinion. Someone in the Carpenter camp should have advised her to mix it up after 1976 with her own original drum solo (stationary) without Cubby doubling in the background. I also feel that by removing the Warsaw Concerto from the set list, Richard would have gained additional time to perform more of their songs from beginning to end instead of resorting to his beloved medley format for some of their biggest hits.
 

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Thumbs sideways. The Warsaw Concerto and the Strike up the Band drum solo gave both Karen and Richard an opportunity to showcase their talents so I get it. However, as much as I enjoyed watching Karen run around the stage showing off her percussion skills it became way too familiar and over done in my opinion. Someone in the Carpenter camp should have advised her to mix it up after 1976 with her own original drum solo (stationary) without Cubby doubling in the background. I also feel that by removing the Warsaw Concerto from the set list, Richard would have gained additional time to perform more of their songs from beginning to end instead of resorting to his beloved medley format for some of their biggest hits.
Excellent comment! I agree with your Cubby backup drumming take. I never liked it. I much preferred the set-up, for example the 1972 Australia concert video; There was ONE drum set. Jim Anthony would do the drumming when Karen was out front, and he would vacate to the congas or tambourine when Karen came back to drum. The Cubby set-up made it look like Karen needed "help" with her drumming IMHO.
 

David A

Well-Known Member
Thumbs down. It is brilliantly done and definitely showcase's Richard's talent, and as @Geographer said, it might have served as a break for Karen, but that could have been done with material that better suited a pop concert. I am 100% certain that had I seen them in concert at that time, I would have found the classical interlude boring, even as I appreciated the talent displayed.

Note: edited for brevity/clarity.
 

GDB2LV

Well-Known Member
I believe he played it at the Hollywood Bowl in the late summer, early fall of 1974. It was great when they lowered the giant mirror so you could see his musicianship, and the symphony orchestra playing along. It was very well received. So they kept it in the show for the next couple of years. I give it a thumbs up. It showcases his talent as a pianist and not just a pop piano artist accompanying his sister.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
I can see the thinking behind why it was included in the show - not only to showcase Richard's talent but also in a sense to show what he could have done with that talent if he hadn't been part of the Carpenters (hence why 'Warsaw Concerto' was chosen rather than a less serious pop piece).

However, it was probably too long to really hold most people's attention, both in concert but particularly on record. Essentially it was something to be admired rather than enjoyed. It really drags on Live at the Palladium, coming after the largely instrumental drum medley. Given that they'd already played 'Piano Picker', which essentially told Richard's 'story' in the concert, there really was no need to include this long piece as well in favour of songs that would work better on an album like 'I Need to Be in Love'.
 
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