Monday, October 30, 2017

concert review: cello and piano

A tentative plan for Sunday afternoon had to go out the window after I received a call from my editor requesting that I cover a cello and piano recital in Berkeley. My schedule makes me available for emergency fill-ins like this, so I get a lot of them. My editor didn't want a program with three U.S. premieres to go unobserved by us. And so I observed it.

So there was a lot of new music here, and the performers' reputation as well as the composers' names suggested a pretty austerely modernist program. And indeed it was. Hertz is not a large auditorium, and it was only half full, which in my experience never happens. High modernism is not my favorite style by any means, but after half a century's experience I know how to listen to and evaluate the stuff. Pascal Dusapin can be a pretty good composer, and even not at his most appealing he sounds like he knows what he's doing; Fred Lerdahl is a basic academic modernist of the kind the US is so effective at churning out; the composer I didn't know is one of those guys who writes as if Anton Webern were still alive. I don't know where these people come from. He bears the truly unfortunate first name of Ashkan, and if you're going to say where his music belongs ... well ...

Thoughts of taking BART vanished when I wasn't ready to leave 5 hours before the concert started. So I drove. Although a quiet Sunday afternoon, there was still a huge plug on the Nimitz in Hayward, so I detoured to Hesperian, and arrived in sufficient time for a quick lunch and an even quicker visit to the music library next door to the hall.

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