Stanley Fefferman’s Chamberfest Diary, August 4, 2008

The noon concert began the series: MUSIC OF OUR TIME. Roman Borys [click on the photo for a larger image], the executive arm of The Gryphon Trio who took on artistic direction of this Chamberfest and made it really cheerful, joined with Annalee Patipatankoon and Robert Cram on flute [click HERE for a Cram image] in playing “Trio for Flute, Violin and Cello” by Harry Somers. This neo-baroque polyphony of voicings arranged in 12 tone rows is surprisingly lyrical: fluty in a Debussyesque way, and sprightly during the third movement in the sophisticated way of Poulenc and Ravel.

Duo Concertante–Nancy Dahn [click on the photo for a larger image] and Timothy Steeves on piano–gave us an unabashedly emotional treatment of “Supernatural Love” by Katie Agocs (1975-). The music speaks of loss and redemption through supernatural love. The moods vary throughout the movements. The first is spectral, wounded, desolate, ironic and cold. The second is open, warm, rhapsodic and elegant. The third is emancipated, explosive, monolithic, nattering frantically like music from a charnel ground. Vivid and strong work.

Geoff Nuttal [click on the photo for a larger image], violinist for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, introduced the Canadian premiere of a work composed by his colleague at Stanford, Jonathan Berger (1954-). Entitled, “String Quartet No. 4, The Bridal Canopy”, the music is inspired by a story from the Nobel Prize winning novelist S.Y. Agnon, and concerns the travels of a man searching for a suitable husband for his daugher.

Typically for a St. Lawrence performance, the first movement is exciting, dynamic, passionate. Nuttall’s playing, in particular, is flamboyant. The second movement opens with a blast from a shofar slowly fading into a whiney, discordant, Hassidic melody that grows sad, faint and ghostly and ends on a cello solo. The third and final movement, a scherzo and coda, begins abruptly in a chaos of sound that develops through a twittering pizzicato to a wild ending. The coda starts slowly, contemplatively, develops a beautiful nigun and closes with a lovely solo from the first violin that fades into silence.

“Horn Trio” by TSO resident composer Gary Kulesha (1954-) is a more traditional sounding piece featuring James Sommerville. An opening fantasia like flowing leaves is rendered spectral and spooky by Gwen Hoebig’s delicate harmonics on the piano. The middle movement is a rhythmic scherzo reminiscent of Hindemith’s ‘Sextet’ with it’s busy voices. A melancholy series of cadenzas flow slowly from the piano followed by some finely controlled minor blasts echoing from the horn. The piece resolves nicely in the finale with a march that drives inexorably towards an energetic close. Very fine.

R.Murray Schafer at 75 was celebrated this evening with a concert where 5 ensembles totaling 25 musicians performed 4 of his compositions including the world premier of Schafer’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano”, and “Isfahan”, conducted by Alain Trudel. Trudel’s presence in this role extended the meaning of ‘chamber music’. Schafer is, as someone remarked, “a wild and crazy guy” of a composer. His music is acoustically multidimensional, avant-garde, and listenable. Inspiring to hear and worth further study. [click on the photo for a larger image]

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