The small audience who braved a rare San Francisco thunderstorm to get to Redshift’s concert on April 12 was rewarded for their trip by an evening filled with mostly minimalist-influenced music, wine, and cookies. Redshift, a bi-coastal ensemble whose website says they are based in New York and San Francisco, consists of Jeff Anderle (clarinet), Rose Bellini (cello), Kate Campbell (piano), and Andie Springer (violin). The concert took place at Salle Pianos, a relatively new space in San Francisco that bills itself as a venue for “artists, musicians, models, painters, and art lovers.” The piano used for tonight’s performance was a Pleyel dating from the 1920s, and aside from an odd buzz or two during the second half (perhaps a broken string?), the instrument sounded as good as it looked.
The theme of the program was “kinetic” or motion-inspired music. While a very interesting idea, I personally would have liked to hear a more varied program. Indeed, most of the concert felt like it explored the same textures and styles. That being said, the performances were technically sound, and the interpretations tasteful. One of the first things to get my attention about the program was how similar it was to much of the music I heard two weeks ago on the Switchboard festival (Anderle is a co-director of the festival and Bellini serves on the board.)
The premiere of the evening, a piece commissioned by Redshift called Rat Race by Dutch composer Gerard Beljon, set the mood with alternating slower and faster sections of motivically constructed music. The composer was present, and seemed pleased with the performance of his new work. Kenji Bunch’s Grooveboxes began with a single note and grew into the post-minimal “groove” oriented texture the title implies.
My favorite performance of the evening was Andrew Kozar’s Sweetest Little Song. Originally for trumpet, violin, and steel drum, the piece was performed on clarinet (and sea shells), violin, and “string piano,” to borrow Henry Cowell’s term. I think the transcription was quite successful: while the lighter piano-pizzicato might not have blended with the original trumpet, it worked quite well with clarinet instead.
Road movies, John Adams’ violin sonata, was slightly less polished than I would have liked: the second movement, which uses scordatura tuning to give the violin a low “F,” had a very rough quality in both sound an intonation. The third movement, 40% Swing, finally caught up with the energy I’d been missing during the previous two movements: Road movies is what the composer calls a perpetual motion “for four wheel drivers only,” and Redshift most certainly drove with all four wheels for this one.
Finally, the concert ended with Ryan Brown’s We’ll Go North When Springtime Comes, with audio source material by Kathy Turco—mostly bird calls and water sounds, with occasional grunts or growls from larger animals. We’ll Go North is one of several pieces based on or around Alaskan field recordings to the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. The end was especially successful in blending with the environment: with rain beating down the windows and thunder making the whole building shake, it was impossible to tell exactly when the piece ended since the storm kept adding to the overall soundscape. As a result, the audience waited longer before applauding than they might have otherwise, allowing for a perfect moment of suspended time at the finish of the piece. This was perhaps the best conclusion to a concert I’ve heard in a very long time.
Kelsey Walsh is a pianist and currently resides in San Francisco. Follow her on twitter: @kwpianist