New York Stringer Magazine Review

Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:17 PM

Arts Contemporary Music by David Katz March 12, 2007 

The New York Composers Circle presented a concert of new music at the Thalia at Symphony Space. While not as diverse in musical genres as the benefit concert given in October (see   ), the concert upheld the high standards of composition and performance for which NYCC has become noted. Each piece was introduced by the composer, setting the mood for the piece. Even without these relaxed, informative and often humerous introductions, the audience would have understood the composers' intentions; the music was well able to stand on its own.

Four numbers had their world premiere at this concert, and one had its New York premiere. Of the nine pieces performed, three had vocal components. Particularly lovely were three Elegies composed by Richard Russel, settings of poems by Emily Dickenson, Chidiock Tichbourne and Hart Crane. These graceful and dramatic airs had in common the theme of loss and acceptance. Tiffany Mouchelle, soprano had a lovely voice and clear enunciation. Stephen Solook, percussionist, lent intensity to the Dickenson poem, and, playing marimbas, provided the melodic underpinnings for the other two poems. 

Two Brecht songs by John Eaton, utilising a soprano and an instrumental group consisting of clarinet, bass clarinet, flute (and alto flute in some sections), viola and cello, was fascinating in its use of clarinet multiphonics and instrumental and vocal microtones. William O. Smith, whose early championing of clarinet multiphonics (simultanious creation of several notes, the wind instrument equivalent of double-stopping) was part of the inspiration for these songs, performed with virtuosity. The soprano, Linda Larson, handled the difficult vocal microtonal progressions with grace and ease. Marget Lancaster (flutes), AdamBerkowitz (bass clarinet), Ron Lawrence (viola) and David Eggar (cello) performed to high standards. The conductor for these songs was Karl Kramer. 

The last vocal piece, Wild Nights, composed by Tamara Cashour, was also a setting of an Emily Dickenson poem. Very short, very dramatic and very operatic, this song is the first in her cycle Emily Unleashed. Ms Cashour sang her own composition. She has a fine, strong operatic voice, but hear enunciation sometimes masked the words. Ishmael Wallace accompanied on the piano.

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