The fifth installment in the three-part [sic] series "Days between," compiling my unblogged recent work for The New York Times, and – for reasons I expect to be fairly obvious – the final installment for the foreseeable future. The end of a run that meant the world to me. As ever and as applicable, the performance date is provided first, followed by the publication date.
‘ELLIOTT CARTER 103RD BIRTHDAY CONCERT’
Fred Sherry, cellist; Rolf Schulte, violinist; Charles Neidich, clarinetist; Virgil Blackwell, bass clarinetist; Bridget Kibbey, harpist; Nicholas Phan, tenor; and others
‘1930s VIOLIN CONCERTOS’
Gil Shaham, violinist; various orchestras, conducted by David Robertson and Juanjo Mena
…this is a tremendous selection of pieces from Carter’s extraordinary late-career bloom, played with love and insight by musicians capable of embracing their challenges and illuminating their charms.
The performance was both heady and bedeviling. Steady bursts at dance club tempos prompted physical responses, stymied by an asymmetrical flux. Twice, a man in a white rabbit suit trudged across the room, his listless presence mirroring the music’s hampered hedonism.
Meant to suggest makeshift Brazilian shantytowns and the disparate individual stories contained therein, the piece offers a dreamlike progression of erratic bumps and scrapes, loosely fastened with repeated gently rising glissandos in a manner at times reminiscent of Varèse.
Adjusting to the space and stillness, perception changed slowly but markedly. Were the cars and buses rumbling past the church louder in the second hour than in the first?
MUMFORD: ‘Through a stillness brightening’
Miranda Cuckson, violinist; Wendy Richman, violist; Julia Bruskin, cellist; Winston Choi, pianist; Argento Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Michel Galante; and others
Jeffrey Mumford, a distinguished American composer who studied with Elliott Carter and Bernard Rands, among others, has an unerring knack for fashioning rigorous works as changeable as cloudscapes, bursting with color, nuance and poetry.
Even absent, the composer was the ghost in the machine — not least as a topic finally rendered explicit. And for those who never witnessed him, this was a faithful representation of his style and intent.
Stephen Hough at Alice Tully Hall, April 13, 2014
April 16, 2014
Dreamy, ticklish, turbulent and ghostly by turns, the tiny pieces convey an acute disquiet and a genteel testing of compositional and emotional boundaries, qualities Mr. Hough keenly conveyed.
MATA Festival at the Kitchen, April 16, 2014
April 18, 2014
It seemed impossible that the finale, Hikari Kiyama’s “Joruri Death Metal,” could live up to its promised collision of modern complexity, Japanese dramatic tradition and the flamboyant violence of death metal.
STEIGER: ‘A Menacing Plume’
Rand Steiger, Olivier Pasquet and Miller Puckette, digital audio signal processing; Talea Ensemble, conducted by James Baker
(New World Records)
HENNIX: ‘Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage / Live at the Grimm Museum, Volume One’
Catherine Christer Hennix, vocals and electronics; Amelia Cuni, vocals; Robin Hayward, microtonal tuba; Hilary Jeffery, trombone; and Michael Northam, sound engineering
Daniel Lippel, guitarist; International Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Jayce Ogren and Matthew Ward
SOPER: ‘Voices From the Killing Jar’
Kate Soper, vocalist, clarinetist, pianist, percussionist; Wet Ink Ensemble
I find in full measure the same characteristics that made “Sirens” so captivating: keen intelligence; lacerating wit; a time-traipsing style with extravagant sounds extracted from frugal resources; and, not least, Ms. Soper’s lithe voice and riveting presence.
BERIO: ‘Sequenza VIII’; ‘Corale’; HUANG: ‘Four Fragments’; Violin Concerto No. 1 (‘Omnipresence’)
David Bowlin, violinist; Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, conducted by Timothy Weiss
DUTILLEUX: Symphony No. 1; ‘Tout un monde lointain’; ‘The Shadows of Time’
Xavier Phillips, cellist; Seattle Symphony, conducted by Ludovic Morlot
This disc is a handy reminder of the vital role that the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio has played in shaping today’s classical-music scene, nurturing artists like the violinist Jennifer Koh, the pianist Jeremy Denk, and members of the groups Eighth Blackbird and the International Contemporary Ensemble.