New Music for Old Instruments - Pleasantly Challenges MeSaturday, January 28, 2017
|Los Dos Amigos - Alexander Weimann & Reginald Mobley|
This last weekend enabled me to enjoy, or at the very least be exposed to music I had never heard before.
In many an Early Music Vancouver sponsored concert, Executive & Artistic Director Director Matthew White poses the question, “What is new music?” I think both of us (he the trained musician and countertenor) and this amateur that new music is not 20th century or 21st century music. It is not 17th century baroque. It is all of them if you have not heard them before.
|Los Dos Amigos - Bramwell Tovey & Alexander Weimann - Christ Church Cathedral January 28 2017|
All of them bring the anticipation (before you hear them performed) of what they will be like? What surprises will be in them? And so on.
What you hear for the first time is not always easy. You have to be exposed to it longer and immerse yourself in it. Thelonious Monk sounded odd the first time I listened to him in early 60s. Bruckner seemed longwinded and much too complex for the first time (and I must admit for a few times after). That Vancouver punk band the Subhumans’ “Fuck You” seemed all noise at first but not any longer.
So my Rosemary and I attended with some measure of “what is in store for us?” this last Saturday’s second variant of New Music For Old Instruments at the sonically challenged Christ Church Cathedral whose sound man should have been excommunicated on the spot. I will stop my rant right there!
Let us hope that we will be able to listen to this truly new music from composers Jocelyn Morlock, Linda Caitlin Smith, André Ristic, Patrick Giguere, Emily Doolittle, Thierry Didrow and Rodney Sharman again so that it will perhaps grow on us.
|Los Cuatro Amigos Alexander Weimann, Bramwell Tovey, Rodney Sharman & Reginald Mobley|
This concert confirmed my suspicion that I have been going to EMV and Pacific Baroque concerts with the idea that I am going to listen to something that is comfortably predictable, within the confines of this amateur who might not entirely understand what scordatura is all about. These wonderful baroque concerts, now stressing the composers, once sort of unknown in the latter part of the 20th century, were comfortable. But many became blurs in my memory moments after leaving the concert venue.
Matthew White, in conjunction with composer Rodney Sharman, and the wonderfully unsatisfied in his milieu keyboardist and Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra Alexander Weimann got together with the blessings of Vancouver Symphony’s Artistic Director Bramwell Tovey to happily attempt (and they succeeded) our level of predictable comfort.
I cite Alexander Weimann who can also play a mean jazz piano about the positive attitude of being unsettled and unsatisfied in what one does (and he does lots) and the impetus to (that almost hackneyed political expression) to move forward.
|Konstantin Bozhinov & Reginald Mobley|
I cite the third piece of Saturday’s program by composer Thierry Tidrow (b. 1986 when you could finally drink without eating at a Vancouver restaurant!) Ricercar in which French-Canadian Noemi Gagnon-Lefrenais (am I sexist to point out she is especially lovely and my baroque bassist friend Curtis Daily would concur) which was a solo piece for her violin.
After the concert I chatted with concertmaster Chloe Meyers and told her that the first two movements had been much too quiet for me to discern but that the third movement had loud passages and interesting stuff I could appreciate. With a smile Meyers told me that Ricercar had no three movements but a complex turning of pages which is why I had thought to the contrary!
|Reginald Mobley & the Pacific Baroque Orchestra|
I want to also listen to Jocelyn Morlock’s Golden which I have heard before performed by that Pacific Baroque Orchestra (just like Saturday) but with soprano (she of the red hair) Phoebe McRae. This time we had countertenor Reginald Mobley ( Mob pronounced like those experts on cement feet and not spats) doing his wonders. The lovely piece has some water-filled glasses that were played by Mobley ( we all call him Reggie). Weimann had the orchestra play extra pianissimo so this man in his sonically challenged ( a black hole pocket perhaps) very good 7th row seat could hear them!
|Alexander Weimann & Bramwell Tovey|
Mobley sang some jazz standards (does anybody besides me know that he took lessons with Ella Fitzgerald?) arranged by Sharman and Weimann and a trio of songs Obsessions, Liebesleid/Lovepain and Songs from Faust that satisfied my desire to listen to new. And I could not finish here without also mentioning the presence of Bulgarian lutenist (it was a theorbo wasn’t it?) Konstantin Bozhinov (who also is a master of the accordion) playing with the orchestra but also in Rodney Sharman’s piece for voice (expressly written for Reginald Mobley’s countertenor voice) and lute She Walks in Beauty.
All in all it was an evening of challenging and truly (as it should be) challenging music that pushes borders.
And yet so many people left right after the concert and did not linger for the best served wine of the evening. Bramwell Tovey and Alexander Weimann performed jazz on the piano separately and then together. This will be a concert that will not blur from my memory.
The most pleasant woman on the far right of this panoramic, Sarah Ballentyne objected (rightly) to the clacking noise my Fuji X-E1 did when I took (and it was stitching) this one (the only one I shot that evening). I apologize to her but I do believe that the noise was worth the trouble. And you might note that Ms Balllentyne is smiling!