Despite a chilly rain in the city last night, a capacity crowd filled the massive Church of St. Paul the Apostle for the latest installment of Ronen Givony's Wordless Music Series. The big draw was the Icelandic band Múm, who offered the subdued electro-acoustic sound so well associated with that island country. With two female singers and five other musicians on stage, they sounded like a toned-down version of Stereolab.
Opening was the Montreal band Torngat, whose versatile members played brass, guitar, percussion and keyboards - sometimes all at the same time. Occasionally, the drums came across a bit strong, but there were also magical moments, as when horn player Pietro Amato and trumpeter Julien Poissant took off down the nave their mouth sounds bouncing off the high walls and all around the interior.
In between was the young cellist Jihyun Kim, who played Bach's first cello suite and Ligeti's Sonata for Cello. Ronen offered up some words of introduction for the benefit of those who weren't familiar with these pieces, and I was immediately envious of them, wondering what it must be like to hear these works for the first time. Kim played without amplification, lending a meditative, ethereal quality to the Bach. The Ligeti started out haunting and creepy, turning fast and furious in the fiendishly difficult in the second movement, marked Capriccio. Kim - who seemed to play almost nonstop - made it look easy.
There is a second Wordless show with Mum tonight at the Society for Ethical Culture, where they've promised a completely different, more rocking set. They'll be joined by Hauschka, Bing and Ruth, and David Moore. Tickets at the door.