Saturday, March 6, 2010

Another performance of new music last night, composed by Sebastian Currier. Much about his work was genuinely engaging: I liked especially a Sonata for Violin (Miranda Cuckson) and Harp (Jacqueline Kerrod). It had all the instrumental intimacy I crave and rarely get from the early Mozart piano / violin sonatas. It was wonderful to hear the silence this piece and its performers commanded in a large-ish hall with a sizable audience. There was a most satisfying range of drama, sheer instrumental beauty, lyricism and virtuosity. Naturally I was reminded of Debussy's splendid insight that the harp is the new piano.

More bravura and a larger ensemble (I believe 12 players) performed a rousing Piano Concerto. Alternating passages calling for unrestrained athleticism with more restraint in the texture, there was no opportunity for the mind to wander in either piece. The soloist was Christopher Taylor; the Argento Ensemble was conducted by Michael Galante.

The final work was the premiere of a work combining electronic feeds with live playing. Here I took issue with the proposition underlying the piece. Though at times Currier succeeded in making me listen "for" rather "to" the music -- the kind of listening I most enjoy -- I felt that, on the whole, the tracks of body sounds, including laughter, hiccups, a sneeze, etc., detracted from my total engagement in a musical event. Currier acknowledges the connection between this composition and film. I don't much go to the movies these days, maybe that's the problem.