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22
Apr

A more personal side of Andriessen at Shenandoah Conservatory

Shenandoah_university_logo-250wThe weeklong Andriessen 75 festival moved down the road to Armstrong Concert Hall, Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia, on April 12, 2014, with three Andriessen pieces accompanied by music from Florent Schmitt, Derek Bermel, and Ruby Fulton. Most composers dread writing fanfares, flourishes, curtain-raisers, occasional works, homages, tributes, anniversary pieces… A few defy the odds, distilling something of their physiognomy, their way of being into the buttoned-down, throwaway miniature. And then there was the one and only Stravinsky: only in the unloved, unremembered Pour Picasso and Canon on a Russian Popular Tune can you find Igor Fyodorovich truly denuded, the composer as you were never meant to see him. Stravinsky at his most touching and vulnerable, sentimental diary entries from a man who otherwise abhorred autobiography.

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: Frances Capatella)

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: Frances Capatella)

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18
Apr

Bang on a Can All-Stars Mix It Up at Andriessen 75 Festival

Atlas-LogoThere are two things to say about Bang on a Can’s Louis Andriessen ties. The first is that no one has done more than the Gordon-Lang-Wolfe troika to further the Dutchman’s reputation stateside. The Bang on a Can All-Stars’ account of the insanely difficult Hout finds them at their very best, providing world class advocacy on behalf of world class repertoire. Anytime they do Andriessen, their interpretation shoots straight to the head of the class. Yet their boosterism has also been highly selective, as the programming on this dazzlingly executed presentation of BoaC greatest hits for the Andriessen 75 festival at Atlas Performing Arts Center on April 11, 2014, made clear. As a representative sample of the softer-edged idiom Andriessen has favored since the mid-nineties, the mellow, harmonically supple Life (the first and to date only work the composer has written on commission for the ensemble) made very strange bedfellows with the acid trip of Michael Gordon’s I Buried Paul. Meanwhile, the youngish Workers Union, that punk reductio ad absurdum of Fred Rzewski-style minimalism, linked up far better with the rest of the program.

Bang on a Can All-Stars (photo: Peter Serling)

Bang on a Can All-Stars (photo: Peter Serling)

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14
Apr

All Andriessen, All the Time, at Atlas Performing Arts Center

This here was a tale of two halves, one part of the program devoted to Andriessen’s myriad piano miniatures, the other a trawl through a clutch of (mostly) decades-old big band scores. Rare is it when the spotlight is placed on one of these strands of this Dutch master’s creative practice, rarer still two in a single evening. Far from making for a lopsided recital, though, for the composer’s most hardened admirers this event at Atlas Performing Arts Center on April 9, 2014, will have proved among the most satisfying installments of the Washington-area “Andriessen 75” festival.

Louis Andriessen

Louis Andriessen

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11
Apr

Andriessen 75: A Retrospective at Strathmore Mansion

Strathmore-logo-250wThe retrospective, that staple of the visual arts world, ought to be more popular in new music circles. As was the case with this informal soirée, once again featuring Louis Andriessen’s two most sympathetic collaborators, mezzo-soprano Cristina Zavalloni and violinist Monica Germino, an intelligently programmed autobiographical portrait concert usually says more about a composer’s practice than any of the official PR boilerplate. It was all that at Strathmore Mansion, in North Bethesda, MD on April 8, 2014, in the third installment of the “Andriessen 75″ festival. A peregrination through some of the lesser known byways of the Dutchman’s output – with a few choice cameos from “friends” – it penetrated to the core of the Andriessen ethos in a way that yet another rendition of Hoketus or De Staat never could have.

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: © Francesca Patella)

Composer Louis Andriessen (photo: © Francesca Patella)

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10
Apr

No Revolution in Monica Germino’s Roadmaps and Diaries II

Atlas-LogoAn unaccompanied violin recital is a daunting proposition. Without pianistic relief, the listener can tire of the nonstop bariolage. Sans sparring partner, the fiddler is left without a safety net. “Roadmaps and Diaries II,” a touring program devised by electric violinist extraordinaire Monica Germino, split the difference in a performance at Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., on April 7, 2014. This was emphatically a solo affair, but Germino was in constant interplay with a host of spectral doppelgängers – “multiple Monicas,” as the subtitle to Julia Wolfe’s With a Blue Dress On puts it – with most of the pieces calling for back-tracking and the AV wizardry of Frank van der Weij. Ironically, the lone exception was Louis Andriessen’s bracing XENIA. Germino was a member of the Asko Ensemble during the nineties, cutting her teeth on works like Andriessen’s Writing to Vermeer. After she embarked on a solo career, the Hague School padrone wrote La Passione and La Girò for her “trembling violin with electric strings.” Yet “Roadmaps and Diaries II” is Germino through and through: this isn’t the Andriessen aesthetic, not really.

Monica Germino and Frank vander Weij (photo: Elizabeth Melchior)

Monica Germino and Frank van der Weij (photo: Elizabeth Melchior)

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