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SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL CONCERT REVIEW
Janáček: Pohadka (Fairytale) (1923)
Stephen Feigenbaum: Suspended Animation (2010, New York premiere)
Paul Kerekes: Hail (2010, New York premiere)
Andy Akiho: 21 (2008)
Jerome Kitzke: Bringing Roses With Her Words (2009, World premiere)
Kate Moore: Velvet (2010, World premiere)
Iva Bittová: Selected songs
Don Byron: Basquiat (2000)
Brahms (arr. Bresnick): “Nein Geliebter” from Neue Liebeslieder (1875)
Laskovsky (arr. Bresnick): Oyfn Veg Shteyt a Boym
A formidable duo, cellist Ashley Bathgate and pianist Lisa Moore have joined together as TwoSense, with the goal of commissioning new works for cello and piano, and here they presented a well-conceived slate of works, many by young composers in their 20’s and 30’s. Stephen Feigenbaum is studying at Yale, and at 21 has already had a piece recorded by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops on Telarc. His Suspended Animation has the piano moving in discrete steps, against a more fluid cello line moving over it. Each piano chord seems to detonate more sound from the stringed partner.
Paul Kerekes was inspired by Rodin, the sculptor, to write Hail, for the duo plus flute (here, the excellent Kelli Kathman). A nervous, repeated note eventually turns into barreling lines for the trio, before moving into a calmer second section. Andy Akiho’s snappy 21 uses steel pans as a surprisingly tangy foil to the cello’s more legato sound, and some occasional pizzicato passages create even more unusual timbres.
An old Seals & Crofts song (“Robin”) inspired the title of Jerome Kitzke’s Bringing Roses With Her Words, which required Ms. Moore to enter, chant, play piano and speak. And Kate Moore’s Velvet, written for cello and piano with a nod to minimalism, opens with a fragility that grows more passionate, and showed the duo in close to ideal synchronicity.
Closing the program was a set of songs with Iva Bittová, a Czech singer/violinist whose music is a stylistic amalgam, touching on jazz, rock, classical, and folk music. In addition to some of her own works, she combined with Moore and Bathgate on Don Byron’s Basquiat, and two arrangements by noted composer Martin Bresnick, first of Brahms's Nein Geliebter, and then of Laskovsky’s Oyfn Veg Shteyt a Boym, all showing the trio finding some exquisite harmonies. The latter is a traditional Yiddish song about a boy who threatens to become a bird and fly away—as his mother keeps weighing him down with clothes.
The evening opened with a soulful version of Janáček’s Pohadka, and here, as in the entire program, the duo combined intelligence and keen musical instincts, in a venture that (it appears) will have a very long lifespan.