On Sunday, November 20th, at Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn, singer/songwriter/composer/pianist/guitarist Gabriel Kahane appeared in concert with the prestigious, conductor-less chamber ensemble Orpheus. Kahane is currently serving as the group’s composer-in-residence. The concert filled me with both elation and disappointment: its initial outpouring of emotion and originality degenerated into blandness during the second half.
Kahane actually did not appear until the second piece; the first excursion was a rousing performance of Paul Hindemith’s Kammermusik No. 1. As Kahane said in the program notes, it’s a very playful piece, especially compared with much of Hindemith’s later work. It’s also incredibly demanding, full of fast, off-kilter rhythms and rapid switches from one group of instruments to another. Orpheus’ stellar execution of this work was especially impressive given that they work without a conductor.