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Critical Distance: counter)induction, Tenri Cultural Institute, New York City, 9 September, 2005 (BH)



Eric Moe: And Life Like Froth Doth Throb (1997, New York premiere)

Douglas Boyce: String Trio: "102nd & Amsterdam" (2005, world premiere)

Karel Husa: Sonata a tre (1982)

Alexandre Lunsqui: After Frottage (2004)

Eli Marshall: Opus Prime (2004, New York premiere)

Georges Aperghis: Mouvement pour quintette (1975, U.S. premiere)





Benjamin Fingland, clarinets

Asmira Woodward-Page, violin

Sumire Kudo, cello

Jessica Meyer, viola

Blair McMillen, piano

Kyle Bartlett, composer

Douglas Boyce, composer



One could hardly imagine a more invigorating beginning to the fall season than this concert by counter)induction, a contemporary music group directed by composers Kyle Bartlett and Douglas Boyce, with the added fire of some of New York’s finest young musicians.  In addition to the theme of the evening (“composers living in exile, either literal or metaphoric”) there seemed to be a common bent toward high-energy expression.  Eric Moe’s tongue-twisting And Life Like Froth Doth Throb (repeat that fast twenty times) was as fizzy as its title.  Moe’s short study, for viola and cello, is a brief sketch whose rhythmic pulse would not be out of place in the company of Bartók’s Forty-Four Studies for Two Violins.  Asmira Woodward-Page and Sumire Kudo gave it all the energy it needed.

Inspired by the “kaleidoscopic rhetoric” of his father, Mr. Boyce offered an equally voluble and intriguing new work, String Trio: "102nd & Amsterdam", that opens with ghostly harmonics, before being interrupted by a violent middle section that eventually evaporates.  On viola, Jessica Meyer joined Ms. Woodward-Page and Ms. Kudo for this high-energy romp, and Mr. Boyce must have quite a dad.

The first half closed with a stunning trio by Karel Husa, Sonata a tre, dispatched with a fury that seemed almost at odds with the serenity of the high-ceilinged Tenri gallery space.  A friend next to me wondered how she could have missed this marvelous piece, written in 1982 – it had escaped my radar, too.  I hope this ensemble will continue to keep this work in its repertoire.  Its first movement, With intensity, has a folk-music feel, but builds to a punishing climax before a suddenly ending, as if watching a cat vanishing over a fence.  With sensitivity asked for Benjamin Fingland to lower his clarinet bell just over the piano strings, and is also intense, almost with a feeling of dread, but ends quietly, hovering, as if suspended in air.  The final With velocity includes some high-intensity solo work for the clarinetist, and the violin creates an uncanny sound that evokes a dog yelping.  Blair McMillen is the group’s pianist, and this Husa workout showed him at his ferocious best.

Eli Marshall is a young composer now based in Beijing, and his Opus Prime is a delightful marriage of say, Hindemith and Shostakovich (whose child ultimately resembles neither), and I’d be very surprised if other chamber music groups don’t pick up this work.  It is ebullient, almost savage, and in the hands of these musicians exuded confidence in every bar.  The work’s unison passages tested all, and Ms. Kudo once again displayed some precise cello work.

The artist Max Ernst inspired Alexander Lunsqui’s After Frottage, for clarinet and cello, filled with extreme gestures (a common thread in many of these works) – brilliant flashes of sound separated by pauses.  Mr. Fingland seemed to reach a peak here, his virtuosity matched again by Ms. Kudo.

Georges Aperghis is sorely underrepresented by performances in the United States, and this witty Mouvement pour quintette shows why.  Composed in 1975 – thirty years ago – this was its first performance in the United States.  Combining compositional skill with humor and sly, slinky asides, Mouvement contains complexity to spare, but never turns so dense that its basic athleticism is obscured.  It is worth quoting Aperghis’ own remark about his work, “Make music of everything,” and this entertaining work bears this out in a freely atonal yet hugely entertaining way.  Occasionally it seems like some kind of traditional rhapsody intentionally mauled and deflated.  It would have been enough to hear this work performed, since it requires not only a surfeit of skill but some humor, but counter)induction leaped ahead to give it the kind of authority one might expect from groups with a much more lengthy pedigree.



Bruce Hodges



Photo credit: Douglas Boyce

For more information: www.counterinduction.com





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Contributors: Marc Bridle (North American Editor), Martin Anderson, Patrick Burnson, Frank Cadenhead, Colin Clarke, Paul Conway, Geoff Diggines, Sarah Dunlop, Evan Dickerson Melanie Eskenazi (London Editor) Robert J Farr, Abigail Frymann, Göran Forsling, Simon Hewitt-Jones, Bruce Hodges,Tim Hodgkinson, Martin Hoyle, Bernard Jacobson, Tristan Jakob-Hoff, Ben Killeen, Bill Kenny (Regional Editor), Ian Lace, Jean Martin, John Leeman, Neil McGowan, Bettina Mara, Robin Mitchell-Boyask, Simon Morgan, Aline Nassif, Anne Ozorio, Ian Pace, John Phillips, Jim Pritchard, John Quinn, Peter Quantrill, Alex Russell, Paul Serotsky, Harvey Steiman, Christopher Thomas, John Warnaby, Hans-Theodor Wolhfahrt, Peter Grahame Woolf (Founder & Emeritus Editor)