August 08, 2011

Waiting for summer, his pastures to change


The 2011 Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, part 1.
NewMusicBox, August 8, 2011.


The 2011 Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, part 2.
Boston Globe, August 9, 2011.

Writing these round-up reviews for the Globe is always a dance between enthusiasm—it's a great platform for saying things about works that deserve to have things said about them—and frustration: given the space limitations, there's simply no way you can mention every piece. For a variety of reasons, these pieces were left on the cutting room floor:
  • Eve Belgarian's Robin Redbreast, which sets a Stanley Kunitz poem in an almost distractingly mannered recitative (here sung by tenor Martin Bakari), but backs it up with a combination of hollow, chirping piccolo (Henrik Heide) and electronically-altered birdsong that was very, very cool;
  • Richard Festinger's Peripeteia, a running-note divertimento for clarinet (Danny Goldman, who was quite good), violin (Wang Fang Wong), and cello (Marybeth-Brown Plambeck), music that, despite some mid-piece longueurs, was remarkably successful at pinning improvisatory fluidity to the notated page;
  • Jonathan Keren's Multiscala, combining a mandolin part of familiar-yet-unfamiliar extended strumming techniques (played by Avi Avital) with a string trio (Johanna Gosshans, Daniel Getz, and Jeremy Lamb), running quick-fire variations, like turning some exotic artifact over and over in one's hands; and
  • Bernard Rands' Tre Espressioni, the festival's oldest piece (1960), played by Ursula Oppens on her Sunday recital, and, indeed, expressionistic, aphoristic slabs of demonstrative old-school modernism.
Further reading: Jeremy Eichler, Allan Kozinn (1, 2), Andrew Pincus (1, 2).