More New York City Concert Notes and Reviews by Mark Greenfest

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March 8, 2014 by Admin

By independent New York concert reviewer Mark Greenfest

The Music of Now, directed by Tania Leon, held its annual The Music of Now Marathon, hosted by Laura Kaminsky, at the main theater at Symphony Space, (W. 95th St. and Broadway in New York, NY), Saturday, February 1, 2014, from 2 pm until 10:30 pm, on themes of dreaming, and of sleep and dreaming.

The festival ended with the memorable Terra Memoria (2007) string quartet of Kaija Saariaho, performed by the Cassatt String Quartet and with two of Meredith Monk’s unforgettable pieces, Madwoman’s Vision from Book of Days (1988), her solo voice at piano, and Memory Song from The Games (1983), performed by Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble, (Katie Geissinger, Allison Sniffin and Bohdan Hilash).

The ensemble of the Cassatt String Quartet approaches perfection; no one is better rehearsed nor more polished.  Ms. Monk’s ensemble has been performing together for years, and has a unique camaraderie.

A lecture-talk by Markus Schmidt, M.D., Ph.D. of the Ohio Sleep Medicine Institute and a sleep-influenced piece by violist Korine Fujiwara (b. 1967) of the Ohio-based Carpe Diem String Quartet, Morpheus Rides (2013, World Premiere), preceded the ending segment, along with Jonathan Leshnoff (b. 1973), String Quartet No. 4 (2012, NY premiere) – a luscious piece influenced by his young daughter’s music making on a recorder, and an amiable jazz piece by the guitar and drums duo, Flow. Periapsis Music and Dance preceded this with Jonathan H. Katz, Laid Upon the Children (2014) choreographed by Leigh Schanfein, leading a section on Shakespeare’s timelessness, followed by Eugene Drucker, Madness and the Death of Ophelia (2014, World Premiere), performed by mezzo soprano Deanne Meek and Eugene Drucker (b. 1952) as speaker, with Shakespeare’s text illuminated on screen; followed by Mimi Jones (b. 1972), The Dream Catcher (2014, World Premiere), a most amiable jazz piece, relaxed and lush in tone.  The Escher Quartet are superb young string performers.  The dance is most appealing and flavorful. This was preceded by the Electric Dreams segment with two plugged-in composers: Du Yun (b. 1977) and Angelica Negron (b. 1981), who did Slow Portraits (2) (2014, World Premiere) and La Busqueda (The Search) (2014, World Premiere), respectively, each with her own unique soundworld.

Martha Mooke

Martha Mooke, presented a World Premiere of REM: A Dream in Sound (2014); Dominic Donato, percussionist, performed Eric Moe, Going Tormented; and, cellist Nicole Johnson did a splendid combination of baroque Giuseppe Columbi (1635-94), then Kaija Saariho’s Dreaming Chanconne (2010, NY premiere), a brilliant modern piece.  A film on Karlheinz Stockhausen, discussing dreams, introduced “Interval” from For Times to Come (1968-70) with Talujon on piano (Ian Antonio and Tom Kolor).  The beginning of the program, entitled Dreaming the Future and Composers for Tomorrow, had three orchestral pieces performed by the accomplished ISO Symphony and Symphonic Band (the Interschool Orchestra) and by nine young composers enrolled in the Special Music School at the Kaufman Music Center (W. 67th St.) with solo instruments and electronics.  The young composers were all teenagers.  I missed the opening pieces, John Mackey (b. 1973), The Soul has Many Motions (2013), and Michael Markowski (b. 1986), Camerado (2013, NY premiere), and caught part of an appealing symphony by Waddy Thompson, Winter Morning by a Lake (2013, World Premiere of a chamber orchestra version).  I was very pleased by the pieces by Noah Chi, Paris Lavidis, Alice Volfson, Daniel Ma, Kyle McIntosh, Mikhail Swersey, Luke Poeppel, and Abe Gold – all very young composers (b. 2000-2).  Soloists such as the excellent Moran Katz, clarinet; Lance Suzuki, flute; Clara Lyon, violin; Brad Balliet, bassoon and contrabassoon; and, Claire Bryant, cello, showcased these pieces.

The marathon is only a fraction of what Music of Now is offering to the public – rich, luscious, and unforgettable music being part of the offerings.

Neil Rolnick hosted a concert of his music at Roulette in Brooklyn, NY, on February 17, 2014. He revisited Digits (2005), written for and performed by Kathleen Supove, piano, with Neil Rolnick, laptop computer, with video track by R. Luke DuBois; Faith (2009), written for and performed by Bob Gluck, piano, with Neil Rolnick, laptop computer; and, he premiered Dynamic RAM & Concert Grand (2014), written for and performed by Vicky Chow, piano and Neil Rolnick, laptop. Although there are a lot of artists exploring the intersection and interaction of computer and acoustic music, very few create works at the level of Neil Rolnick – just as there is only one Beethoven, there is only one Rolnick! Visit him at http://www.neilrolnick.com/.

Cellist Dan Barrett, who is noted for being intense, created a performing chamber ensemble called The International Street Cannibals. He handpicked his performers who, for the most part, are excellent. He led a program of music and poetry called Ekphrais, loosely commemorating the birth of W. H. Auden, at the intimate concert space Spectrum NYC (http://www.spectrumnyc.com/), at 121 Ludlow Street, New York, NY, on Friday, February 21, 2014, at 8pm. (A bit of French music wafted upstairs.)  Barrett is a very cerebral programmer, who looked at the humor of things from unique perspectives, and had music and texts which spanned many centuries, from ancient to post-modern.

The couches in this hall are amazingly comfortable, the acoustics just right, and the musical and poetic selections stimulated the intellect, psyche, funny bone and pathos, in an enthralling balance.  Among the performers were Linda Wetherill, flute (who worked with Boulez), Regina Sadowski and Gregor Kitzis, violins; Dan Barettt, cellist and conductor; Dave Taylor, bass trombone and conductor; Charles Coleman, vocalist and conductor; Jill Jaffee, viola; Dimitri Dover, piano; headliner, Lynn Norris, soprano; and Joe Gallant, 6-string electric bass.  The fascinating program included pieces and poems by De Lassus, Joe Gallant, Dan Palkowski, Francois Villion, Duke Ellington, W. H. Audon, Dan Barrett, Hippocrates, Thomas Acquinas, Dave Taylor, Jean-Phillippe Guinle, Joseph Brodsky, Jean Hure, Beethoven on Mozart theme, as well as Barrett’s Hamburger Man participatory improv.  (There were drinks available during the show.)

ISC is online at http://streetcannibals.com/.

Hudson View Gardens

HVG Performing Arts Group, of the Washington Heights-based Hudson View Gardens (a co-op south of the Cloisters), Pinehurst Avenue and 183rd St., New York, NY, hosts a series, Sunday Concerts at the Lounge, which has a generous post-concert reception (full meal) and music for a $12 suggested donation, held a program called Piano Extravaganza!! with Oliver Betz, Stephen Gosling, Aaron Kernis, Evelyne Luest, Benjamin Metrick, Lisa Moore, Alvin Moverman, Dalia Sakas and Marija Stroke.  Several of the pianists have international reputations. Pianist Elvelyne Luest (Kernis) and her husband, pianist composer Aaron Jay Kernis were first among equals in assembling this program, held Sunday afternoon, February 16, 2014, at 5 pm. The program included pieces by Beethoven, including his Six Bagatelles; Brahms, including his Sonata in F minor for two pianos; Bela Bartok, Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm; Brett Dean, Prayer (2005); Duke Ellington; Igor Stravinsky; Zhou Long, Pianogongs – a particularly wild and enjoyable piece, with gongs next to the piano bench; Franz Schubert; and, Sergei Rachmaninoff (Suite No. 2 for Two Pianos). The space is the size of a large living room, with reasonably comfortable chairs, and one of the best receptions in New York. The musicians and the music were splendid! More about them at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Hudson-View-Gardens-Performing-Arts-Group-PAG/110944475678496.

Max Lifchitz

North/South Consonance Inc., directed by conductor and pianist Max Lifchitz, held a Midwinter Festival of new music for chamber orchestra by American composers at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, (120 W. 69th St., near Broadway) in New York, NY, Sunday, February 16, 2014, at 3 pm. The pieces included the premiere of the lush and lyrical Chenonceau (2013) of Brian Wilbur Grundstrom; Joseph N. Rubenstein, Shebash Variations (2011); William Toutant, Administrative Suite (2013); Harold Schiffman, Banjo Concerto (2009) – a stellar piece; and, John Winsor, The Faerie Queen (2013).  All of these works were well worth listening to, and this program series is always free of charge.  This was a wonderful program, especially the Grundstrom and the Schiffman pieces, which were masterful. Visit North/South Consonance at http://www.northsouthmusic.org/


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