by Angela Sutton
Lisa Pegher brought precise musicianship and a mountain of toys to The Cell in Chelsea on Thursday night, in a program of contemporary works that integrated digital audio and video and blended rock and jazz improv with more complex art music.
Unfortuantely, the two multimedia works were weighed down by their pop elements. Joe Sheehan's Vibraphone Loops, premiered at this concert, drew heavily on synth jazz that dredged up bad memories of Muzak, though there was some tight interaction between the live vibraphone and recorded synths. The other work, Minimal Art, with a score by Andrew Knox and video by Ben Hill, suffered from grandiose, movie-soundtrack prerecorded audio. Fortunately, Ms. Pegher's live improvisation, rotating through a half-dozen stations of different equipment, was far more satisfying.
Ms. Pegher was at here best when performing solo. The program opened with Tobias Brostrom's Arena, adapted for performance on a large drum kit, which Pegher played standing up. As interludes between the larger works, Pegher sprinkled a series of clever and technically impressive works for marimba and other percussion. These included Paul Lansky's Laughing Matter, an amusing loop of marimba against woodblocks; Leigh Howard Steven's Rhythmic Caprice, alternating mallet-head and mallet-shaft strikes to create layers of sound; and Ms. Pegher's own No Reply, a short, tuneful closer. In all, despite some overreach, this concert was a reminder of the impressive depth and breadth of music being written for percussion, and the increasingly honed chops of those who perform it.