|Numinous The Music of Joseph C. Phillips Jr.|
The Numinosum Blog
This afternoon I attend the second in pianist Simone Dinnerstein's Neighborhood Concert Series at P.S. 321 in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. The concert featured Simone performing along with violinists Caleb Burhans and Yuki Numata, violist Nadia Sirota, and cellist Clarice Jensen of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME).
After a brief introduction from Simone, the concert began with the first two movements from Jefferson Friedman's String Quartet No. 3 written in 2005. Overall the work took various inspirational musical references and melded them into a cohesive and enjoyable whole. At times I was reminded of Henryk Górecki as the music took some prayerful, almost Eastern European-like reposes, at other times, as the strings were beautifully stretching into the upper registers, the music was reminiscent of Aaron Jay Kernis's string quartet, Musica Celestis. However, with its rhythmic twists and turns, the general atmosphere of the Quartet had a Bartok-ian perfume to it without being fully derivative (a tough trick to pull off successfully, which the piece did wonderfully). There were a number of interesting effects, some I'm planning to appropriate someday: the sul ponticello passages in the cello and viola which came out almost as an electric guitar distortion-like sound or the moment in the second movement where all the strings were arhythmically playing sliding high harmonics which slowly evolved into a more rhythmic passage.
Next were the third ("The Blue Room") and fourth ("Tarantella") movements from Phil Kline's quartet The Blue Room and Other Stories. Originally written in 2002 for the string quartet Ethel performing with electronic live sampling pedals, the work was arranged in 2009 to be performed by a conventional string quartet. "The Blue Room" opened evocatively with a couple of strings playing a sul tasto, quietly undulating minimalistic eighth note figure while a melodic fragment sang above it. This little musical gesture, which briefly happened again later in the movement, was one of my favorite moments of the entire concert. The movement continued in a lovely melodic and singing way and after a brief pause lead into the fourth movement, which began with a loping, galloping rhythmic pad and a reaching violin melody and continued with a more frenzied and exciting pace until the end.
For the final two pieces of the concert, Simone joined ACME in delightful readings of the first movement of Antonin Dvorak's Piano Quintet in A Major, Op. 81 and J.S. Bach's Keyboard Concerto in F minor (which Simone will also be performing with ACME on January 30th as part of Columbia University's Miller Theatre's all-Bach Concert). The Dvorak was performed with the lovely melancholic, Brahms-like winter-fireplace-hearth warmth that music requires while the Bach was clearly delineated with beautifully dispassionate passion. And the Bach's famous second movement, with its beautiful piano melody in an almost duet with the cello bass line, was another of my favorite moments from the concert.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, all of the artist on the series are donating their time and efforts in order for all of the proceeds to benefit P.S. 321. And if the size and attentiveness of the audience is any indication (the auditorium was completely full with a number of people standing along the back wall), then the Neighborhood Series is a much needed and quite successful outlet for world class quality classical chamber music in Brooklyn and if you haven't checked it out yet, you are missing something wonderful.
Remaining schedule for Simone Dinnerstein's Neighborhood Concert Series
(all performed in PS 321's auditorium-180 7th Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11215)
February 4th, 2010:
The Chiara String Quartet
April 15th, 2010:
Face the Music,
featuring premiere of the composition,
by Joseph C. Phillips Jr.
(commissioned by Simone Dinnerstein and the Neighborhood Concert Series)
POSTED BY NUMINOUS AT 10:01 PM
To all things that create a sense of wonder and beauty that inspires and enlightens.