Thursday, May 13, 2010

The deeply personal connection I feel to the music of Ursula Mamlok is rooted in my reaction to a splendid bit of counterpoint approaching a cadence in the slow movement of her Woodwind Quintet. The performance by The Quintet of the Americas took place about 40 years ago in a public symposium, an event which permitted me to stand up and express my awe at its beauty. As it happened Ursula was in the back of the room. She stood up, declared that to be her "favorite cadence" though colleagues told her that is she wrote like that she "would never have a career." We have been friends ever since.

I was disappointed by a recent performance of the work by a different quintet who verticalized the composition, treating the approach harmonically rather than contrapuntally. The effect was totally lost.