Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mamlok and Real Neo-Classicism

Theorists and critics like to use the term Neo-Classic as a great compliment to a composer: To Prokofiev for his Classical Symphony, to Stravinsky for his numerous works based on 18th-century and earlier composers.

Ursula Mamlok's Neo-Classicism is of a different category, less a matter of formal emulation than of instrumental insight.

In the pursuit of formal clarity it is possible to assume notes while constructing themes, subjects, motifs, procedures.  Mamlok, by keeping the attention on the tones themselves and on the refinement of every rhythmic instant, evokes the essence of Classical style, not its surface.

Last week, in a concert of her works performed by some of New York's top players, it was a privilege to watch them, one by one, fall in love with their instruments anew, invited by her sonorities, yielding to the power of her musical convictions--much more deeply sensual than themes.

I came away from that concert with several vivid moments.  Thank you, Ursula.