The second in an occasional (though not occasional enough) series that started with a blog post in October, here's another omnibus entry covering all of my writing for The New York Times between the Bard Music Festival in mid-August and the New York Philharmonic concert of November 14, both blogged up individually elsewhere. The first date refers to the event, the second to publication.
Julianna Barwick at Judson Memorial Church, August 20, 2013
August 24, 2013
Ms. Barwick’s songs — chiefly wordless vocals, electronically looped — materialize out of ether, saturate a sonorous atmosphere, then dissolve. Environment trumps event.
Mr. Bell is easily taken for granted by classical music cognoscenti, not least because of his extra-musical celebrity. What other violinist would accept an invitation to judge the Miss America pageant?
The alternation of movements grew familiar, if never altogether comfortable. Great! Comfort, after all, is highly overrated.
Taka Kigawa at Le Poisson Rouge, August 26, 2013
August 28, 2013
…anyone can appreciate how the wonder and joy Mr. Kigawa conveys in talking about his repertory during a concert is also manifest in the way he performs it.
Fred Frith and Laurie Anderson at the Stone, August 27, 2013
August 30, 2013
…the first set on Tuesday, played for a capacity audience, was a textbook example of how free improvisation can provide common ground for musicians of wildly disparate styles and temperaments.
Mr. Dalachinsky, beholden to the Beats but seasoned by meaner times, recited with a jazz-horn flow. He rushed one phrase and elongated the next; occasionally he stuttered on a single syllable, and then released the pent-up tension in a gush.
…for plenty of players now swimming the city’s musical currents, DIY is already second nature. Case in point: Vicky Chow, the prodigious Canadian pianist currently embedded in the Bang on a Can All-Stars, de facto house band of the entrepreneurial revolution.
Object Collection "No Hotel" at St. Mark's Church, September 7, 2013
September 9, 2013
As Mr. Just’s music murmurs, natters and erupts into spasmodic punk-metal hammering, Mr. Glickstein, Mr. Nelson and Ms. Peker embrace, dance, exchange wigs, blurt non sequiturs and repeatedly murder one another.
Dedalus Ensemble at Roulette, September 9, 2013
September 11, 2013
Not every substantial American debut by an acclaimed European ensemble comes packaged with oversize fanfare, media hype and an obligatory guest appearance by Yo-Yo Ma.
"In 25 Years, Miller Theater Has Transformed the Arts Scene"
September 15, 2013
---> Web extra: "25 Years at Miller Theater"
"The more specialized the program, the more open it is to an outsider. If you go to a Monet retrospective, you come out, and you say: Hey, I love these pictures of Monet. I hate these. I love the lilies. I hate the lilies. You suddenly can say something, where before you were illiterate."
Each has developed strategies for creating music that is not only distinctive and individual but also intentionally and necessarily permeable to sensations from the everyday world.
Éliane Radigue/Xavier Veilhan "Systema Occam" at Florence Gould Hall, September 19; Charles Curtis at Issue Project Room, September 20; and Charles Curtis, Yoshi Wada and Pitreleh at Issue Project Room, September 21, 2013
Each deliberate stroke ignited a pale corona of resonating harmonics, offering a lambent glow akin to dust motes swirling in a pale beam of light.
Mr. Zorn’s language conjures Ligeti and Schoenberg, sure. But the essential DNA of "Contes de Fées," augmented with not just one but two wind machines, reaches back further, to Berlioz fever dreams and macabre showpieces by Saint-Saëns and Mussorgsky.
I’m not a big fan of gala opening nights, which tend to be all about fancy dress, floral arrangements, celebrity guests and a feel-good repertory that extends from canon fodder to bonbon.
…the chutzpah needed to envision Mr. Zorn presenting his music surrounded by some of the art that inspired him, and to facilitate an audience tramping after him during an otherwise typical Saturday, is something new for the institution.
You saw smokestacks, barnyards and big-city parades, with folks coifed in styles now seldom seen outside early Richard Linklater films and certain corners of Brooklyn.
…the music billowed and heaved fitfully, its bruised harmonies, obsessive repetitions and sudden, stark silences an almost shockingly intimate conjuring of the emotional intensity at play in the words.
…Ms. de la Salle offered freshness and lucidity in Debussy, her measured approach providing tantalizing whiffs of fragrance instead of heavy perfume.
Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, October 13, 2013
October 15, 2013
…Mr. Levine focused past Carter’s complexity to engage the drama and voluptuousness of this score, which for all its tangles and whorls contains not a single uninteresting or unlovely measure.
“I just thought, ‘So you can have it all,’ ” he said. “You can get me moving, and be playing some of the most profoundly well-organized music that humans could possibly imagine. It’s visceral, but everything’s in its right place.”
“Everything we do has a foundation,” he continued in that article. “I think the African phrases are very obvious. I think the funk phrases are very obvious. I think the Oriental phrases are obvious. I think the Bulgarian rhythms are there — I hear all of it.”
Coming out was not an easy prospect for Mr. Blier. “The idea that Ned had written a song about my river, and that he shared my secret, was huge for me,” he said.
“What I found is that there are so many similarities between filmmaking and composing: the way you handle time, the way you handle phrasing, the editing of the film,” he said.
…the provocative force of “War Sum Up” is in the ambiguity of its message and the allure of its high-gloss finish. If only more New Yorkers could have seen it.
Presented with the same speculative exercise in summarizing “Frau,” Ms. Goerke laughed heartily. “Somebody said, ‘In two sentences, can you describe this opera you’re in?’ ” she recalled. “I said, ‘Nope.’ ”
…the violinist Hilary Hahn was at the center of a social whirl, which could be variously described as a marathon concert, a school day and a carnival.
New York Philharmonic Contact! at SubCulture, November 4, 2013
November 8, 2013
Good news: With the fifth season of Contact!, the contemporary-music series the New York Philharmonic inaugurated in 2009, comes a performance space that finally suits the informal tone the orchestra desired but never previously delivered.
Musical tributes similarly ranged from heavy-weather art song to pop-derived whimsy, much of it by composers not yet born when Kennedy died.
Hammering repetitions in the first of five movements echo choral dramatists throughout the ages, from Mozart and Beethoven to Orff and Philip Glass.