Editor: Marc Bridle

 

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

 

 

                    

Google

WWW MusicWeb


Search Music Web with FreeFind




Any Review or Article


 

Seen and Heard International Concert Review

 

American Premieres: New Juilliard Ensemble, Joel Sachs, Conductor, Juilliard Theater, New York City, September 18, 2004 (BH)

 

Remigijus Merkelys: Compass (2003), U.S. Premiere

Alexander Shchetynsky: Face to Star (1991), U.S. Premiere

Haukur Tómasson: Áhringur (1993-94), U.S. Premiere

Menachem Zur: Threads of the Heart (2003), World Premiere

Robert Nasveld: Music for the Billions (1998, rev. 2002), New York Premiere

 

 

In a city where scores of concerts sprout like mushrooms on any given night, one could not ask for a more invigorating start to the fall season than the intriguing smorgasbord offered by Joel Sachs and the New Juilliard Ensemble, the latter formed from some of the school’s best young performers and now celebrating its 12th season. Mr. Sachs is widely admired for his adventuresome ear, but this was a particularly well-chosen slate, with five strong pieces making their first appearances here. From the musicians’ point of view, it must be inspiring to be able to play recent music of such high-quality – and judging from the audience’s enthusiastic response, their efforts communicated what these eclectic composers wanted to say.

 

Merkelys’ Compass opens with a strident high note on the synthesizer, buzzing like some kind of needling insect over the rest of the ensemble, whose parts have overtones of jazz. The swingy influences bubble over at the end, when the saxophone bursts into the mix with a wildly insistent, improvised solo that seems to come out of nowhere, here played by the exuberant Jonathan Irabagon. Alexander Schchetynsky’s Face to Star, completed in 1991, opens with a delicious, dense first chord for the whole ensemble, eventually opening up into a slow-fast-slow structure with harmonies that sound rather like Alban Berg. It ends with cymbals and marimba exquisitely soft, almost a little throwaway gesture trickling into nothingness.

 

Tómasson’s Áhringur (Annual Ring) is in four movements connected by a cello solo (beautifully played by Elspeth Poole), and offers brittle, shimmering textures that to these ears evoked the peculiar light and texture of Icelandic air and water. I loved the ending, with a small, delicate figure for the strings that, as in the Schchetynsky, almost seems to quietly evaporate as you are hearing it. Menachem Zur was on hand to speak before the world premiere of Threads of the Heart, which in his notes he describes as "more impressionistically French than German" and that’s not an inaccurate assessment. But I also found it droll, sly and rather amusing in its exploration of tonal ambiguity.

 

In Sachs’ excellent notes, Robert Nasveld says, "When I had graduated from the Conservatory in Utrecht long ago…I felt a great need for self-renewal. On the one hand I wanted to rid myself of the remnants of other people’s influences; on the other hand, as far as I was concerned, the big fat bone of dissonance tossed to us at the beginning of the twentieth century had in my view been picked clean." Nasveld introduced his Music for the Billions (today’s winning title, by the way) by remarking, "It’s always interesting to see how young people survive my music," but his bracing, sometimes humorous study wasn’t as difficult to enjoy as he seemed to imply. The work has clear nods to jazz and minimalism, with sometimes almost banal-sounding sonorities. In the third movement, he tries to deal with an "unbelievably silly tune in which sixth chords flew about my ears." Few composers at the moment would even bother to tackle a subject seemingly rife with potential triteness, let alone come up with Nasveld’s exhilarating results. I didn’t find it forbidding at all; on the contrary, let’s get his music here more often! Good for Mr. Sachs and his outstanding young musicians for illuminating this oddity and the four previous works, all of which deserve further hearings. This is exactly the kind of rousing evening that gets people excited about contemporary music – and wanting to hear more of it.

 

Bruce Hodges

 

 

 

 

 



Back to the Top     Back to the Index Page


 





   

 

 

 

MusicWeb - The International Web Site Founder: Len Mullenger [UK], Classical Editor: Rob Barnett [UK],  Regular Reviewers:   Steve Arloff [UK], Guy Aron [Australia], Tony Augarde [UK], Terry Barfoot [UK], Melinda Bargreen [USA], David J. Barker [Australia], Rob Barnett [UK], Nick Barnard [UK], Robert Beattie [UK], Dave Billinge [UK], Peter Bright [UK], Byzantion [UK], Colin Clarke [UK], Dominy Clements [Netherlands], Michael Cookson [UK], Hubert Culot [Belgium], Evan Dickerson [UK], Gavin Dixon [UK], Robert J. Farr [UK], Christopher Fifield [UK], Göran Forsling [Sweden], John France [UK], Patrick Gary [USA], Pierre Giroux [CAN], Paul C. Godfrey [UK], Michael Greenhalgh [UK], William Hedley [France], Gary Higginson [UK], Neil Horner [UK], Robert Hugill UK], David Jennings [UK], Bill Kenny [UK], William S Kreindler [USA], Ian Lace [UK], Em Marshall-Luck [UK], Oleg Ledeniov [USA]Rob Maynard [UK], David A McConnell [USA], Kirk McElhearn [France], Robert McKechnie [UK], Ralph Moore [RMo] [UK], Dan Morgan [UK], Margarida Mota-Bull [UK], Glyn Pursglove [UK], John Quinn [UK], Carla Rees [UK], Brian Reinhart [USA], Donald Satz [USA], Mark Sealey [USA], John Sheppard [UK], George Stacy, Kevin Sutton [USA], Bert Thompson [USA], Simon Thompson [UK], Zane Turner [Australia], Steve Vasta [UK], Johan van Veen [Netherlands], Raymond Walker [UK], Derek Warby [UK], Brian Wilson [UK], Jonathan Woolf [UK] Leslie Wright [USA]. A complete list of contributors can be seen here




EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Past and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

MusicWeb International thank Naxos for the no-strings use of their server to mount the website.