Thursday, February 14, 2019

concert review: Alexander Quartet and Joyce Yang

B. and I have long since learned that going out for dinner on Valentine's Day is a sucky thing to do, so we go on an adjacent night (trying out a new Indian place nearby tomorrow) and I was free to go up to the City for a concert tonight, eating at a Mission District taqueria, which I was sure wouldn't have any Valentine's doo-dads on its menu, though there were plenty of tables set up out on the street by entrepreneurs hoping to catch people who'd forgotten to buy flowers, or chocolate, on the way home.

So the concert featured a new piece called Quintet with Pillars by Sam Adams (son of John). This consisted of half an hour of the string quartet in a sequence of held chords while the piano had bright plunky exclamations or sequences above it. The music wasn't empty, but it was pretty much eventless. In fact, it sounded more like a very fast, very loud version of Morton Feldman - in other words, very slow and very quiet by anybody else's standards - more than anything else. I can't say I loved it, but I could have been itching with boredom but wasn't.

Also on the program, both of Mozart's piano quartets. These were driven by Joyce Yang's crisp and lively pianism, with the string players kind of tugging along in her wake. Putting the Adams between them made me wonder, as I sometimes do, what if somebody today decided to write with the vocabulary of Mozart? That would be really daring, and I'm sure all the critics who think Lutoslawski is a great composer would hate it.

Weather OK going in, but it was very very wet outside afterwards as I waited hopefully for a bus, which mercifully arrived after not too long and took me to a BART station.

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