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January 2011

December 2010

Timo Andres/Metropolis Ensemble

DSC03654After the last jam Metropolis Ensemble threw in a Clinton Hill Brownstone, I jumped at the chance to check out their latest home show, in a lavish penthouse a stone's throw from Lincoln Center. This time, the program was essentially a Timo Andres piano recital, featuring Schumann's Kreisleriana and a companion piece Timo wrote for the occasion with the horrible and obvious name It takes a long time to become a good composer. (The program began with Timo's Clamber Music for two violins and piano, which I missed.) 

It takes a long time came first: a series of five miniatures that swung high to low, evoking both quiet sadness and joyous abandon. This same sense of manic depression was evoked in Kreisleriana: a piece particularly close to Timo, who's been rehearsing it off-and-on for the past five years, though only played it for the first time in public on Thursday. Incredibly dense and complex, the music seemed ready to run off the rails before collapsing back in on itself. 

Schumann was 27 when he wrote Kreisleriana; Timo's 25 now. As far as I can tell, Timo's right on track.

More pics on Flickr.

Monks In Black

DSC04236Last night, France's Ensemble Organum came to the Baryshnikov Arts Center to perform Guillaume de Machaut's Messe De Nostre Dame (1364): one of the earliest known complete settings of the Latin Mass and, by general agreement, one of the finest. The performance - led by Enesmble Organum's director/tenor Marcel Peres - was completely authentic, sounding almost Middle Eastern with their copious use of melismas and vibrato. 

The six singers - tenors, countertenors and basses - processed in wearing identical black suits and stood together around the illuminated score, just as tonsured monks would have done 650 years ago. The music wasn't immediately accessible - their voices were nasal and grating, full of dissonances and abrupt pauses - but  there was no denying it's mystical power. And, while it may have been unusual to hear this music in a non-church setting, Thomas Dunn's effective lighting more than made up for it.DSC04238

Coming in January: Ecstatic Music Festival

'Tis the season of genre-bending new festivals: hot on the heels of the inaugural White Light Festival, the Kaufman Center brings us the Ecstatic Music Festival: a two month series of events exploring the "fertile terrain" between new/classical and indie/pop music. The festival is the brainchild of NewAm's Judd Greenstein, whose uber-inclusive label has become the local nexus of this kind of cross-pollination. 

Highlights include: 

Tickets are $25, or you can purchase a four-concert subscription for the sort-of-discounted price of $80. Watch the video below for more info.