Last Update June 22, 2007
Arts Contemporary Music by David Katz March 12, 2007 The New York Composers Circle presented a concert of new music at the Thalia at Symphony Space. While not as diverse in musical genres as the benefit concert given in October (see ), the concert upheld the high standards of composition and performance for which NYCC has become noted. Each piece was introduced by the composer, setting the mood for the piece. Even without these relaxed, informative and often humerous introductions, the audience would have understood the composers' intentions; the music was well able to stand on its own.
Four numbers had their world premiere at this concert, and one had its New York premiere. Of the nine pieces performed, three had vocal components. Particularly lovely were three Elegies composed by Richard Russel, settings of poems by Emily Dickenson, Chidiock Tichbourne and Hart Crane. These graceful and dramatic airs had in common the theme of loss and acceptance. Tiffany Mouchelle, soprano had a lovely voice and clear enunciation. Stephen Solook, percussionist, lent intensity to the Dickenson poem, and, playing marimbas, provided the melodic underpinnings for the other two poems.
Two Brecht songs by John Eaton, utilising a soprano and an instrumental group consisting of clarinet, bass clarinet, flute (and alto flute in some sections), viola and cello, was fascinating in its use of clarinet multiphonics and instrumental and vocal microtones. William O. Smith, whose early championing of clarinet multiphonics (simultanious creation of several notes, the wind instrument equivalent of double-stopping) was part of the inspiration for these songs, performed with virtuosity. The soprano, Linda Larson, handled the difficult vocal microtonal progressions with grace and ease. Marget Lancaster (flutes), AdamBerkowitz (bass clarinet), Ron Lawrence (viola) and David Eggar (cello) performed to high standards. The conductor for these songs was Karl Kramer.
The last vocal piece, Wild Nights, composed by Tamara Cashour, was also a setting of an Emily Dickenson poem. Very short, very dramatic and very operatic, this song is the first in her cycle Emily Unleashed. Ms Cashour sang her own composition. She has a fine, strong operatic voice, but hear enunciation sometimes masked the words. Ishmael Wallace accompanied on the piano.
The instrumental compositions ranged from jagged and noisy to flowing and melodic. Eugene McBride's The Maverick, a chamber concerto for piano, was, according to the composer's introduction, inspired by a trombonist whose name provides the pitch materials for the second movement. Often using seconds, the performers (Mary Barto, flute; Evan McBride, trumpet; Sarah Hatler, trombone; David Eggar, cello; and Stephen Salook, percussion) managed this difficult but rewarding piece with aplomb. As always, Cesar Vuksic, the piano soloist, was an exciting and virtuosic performer.
Nataliya Medvedovskaya, whose piano performance in the October benefit concert was one of the standout moments, presented four sections from her piece Pantomimes. Humerous and evocative, and bearing the titles Alarm in an Anthill, Waltz of the Poisonous Mushrooms, Tiptoeing Invisible Beings and Tango of Octopi, these charming numbers were illuminated by the superb playing of clarinettist Adam Berkowitz, performing at various times on B-flat, E-flat and A clarinets, and the alwya impressive pianism of the composer.
Somewhat less successful, but still interesting, was the overtly political piece The Government is Destroying our Water, composed by Noah Haverkamp. The constant repetition of a six-note theme evolved slowly into a more interesting composition. Ana Milosavljevic, violin, Chi-chi Lin, viola, Ani Kalayjian, cello, and Nataliya Medvedovskaya were the performers.
Perhaps the most pleasing piece of the evening was Jacob E. Goodmen's Quintet, in three movements marked Flowing, Interlude and Leggiaro. All three movements explored a four note motif, EDBA, in different keys. melodic, pleasant, and, in the third movement, lively, this composition was evocative of Ravel without losing Mr. Goodman' own unique voice. Mary Barto, flute; Ana Milosavljevic, violin; Chi-Chi Lin, viola; Ani Kalayjian, cello; and Nataliya Medvedovskaya, piano, turned in excellent performances.
The last two compositions of the evening, Missing Time, by Donald Hagar, and Mirage, by Yekaterina Merkulyeva, were both impressionistic numbers. Missing Time projected a jagged and noisy alarm clock, while Mirage's traffic sounds and traveling themes evoked the bustle and jounce of New York City as experience for the first time by the composer. Vasa Shevel was Mirage's piano soloist, and did a fine job with a difficult but rewarding piece.
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