Archive for the ‘Concert’ Category

17
Apr

Production Pretense Unsettles Maya Beiser’s All Vows at Yerba Buena

Yerba-Buena-center-for-the-arts-logoOn the weekend of March 21, 2014, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts hosted the debut of “All Vows,” a new program by acclaimed cellist and new music luminary, Maya Beiser. The concert featured Beiser on cello, Ryan Brown on bass, and Glenn Kotche on percussion, with works by Kotche, Michael Gordon, David T. Little, Mohammed Fairouz, Michael Harrison, Chinary Ung and a string of (mostly) rock arrangements by Evan Ziporyn. The ambitious program was divided into two halves, each of which really constituted a concert in itself. Both were intensely produced to the point of being more like a rock show rather than a chamber music concert. This sense of production was a distraction from the music-making onstage and created a sense of distance that was more alienating than engaging.

Maya Beiser (photo: mayabeiser.com)

Maya Beiser

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16
Apr

Ensemble LPR: Greenwood and Dessner as Bartok’s Descendants

lepoissonrouge-logoLe Poisson Rogue is hardly a small venue, but March 7, 2014, with André de Ridder conducting the Ensemble LPR, was the first time I’d seen the stage genuinely crammed. Which was appropriate, considering that two of the three composers on the program are better known as rock musicians. Johnny Greenwood’s Suite from There Will Be Blood and Bryce Dessner’s Lachrimae sound like they’re meant to fill an intimate club, not a concert hall. And it’s hard to deny that Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta belongs all up in your face, not at a distance. If only every performance of orchestral music happened in the tightest possible space. The harp, piano, celesta and percussion ate a third of the stage while the strings occupied the rest, roughly twenty musicians in all. Any fewer, and the Bartók piece would’ve been impossible. Any more, and the timpani would’ve had to set up at the bar.

Jonny Greenwood (photo: wikipedia.org)

Jonny Greenwood

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15
Apr

London Contemporary Music Festival Celebrates Bernard Parmegiani

LCFM-logo-250w

Britannia House, a large building just off Brick Lane in London’s East End, used to be a carpet factory. March 20-23, 2014, it was the trendy host to the London Contemporary Music Festival’s retrospective of the works of Bernard Parmegiani, an obscure but very cool experimental composer who died last year. In October, Britannia House will become a large commercial block of offices and “cultural events” called Second Home. If anyone ever asks you to define the term “gentrification,” you could maybe pay a visit.

Composer Bernard Parmegiana (photo: ideologic.com)

Composer Bernard Parmegiana (photo: ideologic.com)

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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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