Friday, June 10, 2011

Timo Andres performs at Bargemusic, accompanied by thunder, lightning and fireworks behind. The show goes on!

Very few concert pianists regularly give entire recitals of contemporary, little or completely unheard music, but Timothy Andres (or we should use his trademark name “Timo Andres”, b. 1985) does so regularly.

Add to that, you needed sea legs for last night’s concert at Bargemusic (website url  link) near the Brooklyn Bridge at the Fulton Ferry Landing. I found myself dizzy for a moment, and then remembered I was on a boat (which fairly rocks when a freighter passes by up the East River). After looking outside at the water (and the Manhattan skyline) a couple minutes, I was fine. I had done this sort of thing in 2001 at a disco dance on Lake Superior in Duluth.

The thunderstorms started immediately, punctuating Tmo’s playing with lightning bolts hitting the skyscrapers behind him, and thunder. Then, after the “Intermission”, there occurred a fireworks show, perhaps by coincidence.

Timo started the concert with his own “At the River” (2011). Again, Timo often likes to compose in short miniatures, almost etude-style. There are plenty of effects with the whole tone scale and various fourths and ninths; the piece had the sound of Ravel perhaps, definitely Parisian, as does a lot of his music to my ear.
Next there was a five-movement suite “Parlor Diplomacy” (2011), world premiere, by Ted Hearne (b. 1982), with some Brahmsian effects in the slower movements. The last movement is called “ambiguation”, as if to recognize that body language signals from people can be ambiguous, as was the case for me in Minnesota the previous weekend.

He then played a piece called “Hoyt Schermerhorn” (2010) by Christopher Cerrone (b. 1984). The piece is named after a Brooklyn subway station. It ends with odd effects in the upper registers achieved by microphones placed near the Steinway.

After the Intermission, Timo played “Clifton Gates”, for piano and electronics, world premiere, 2011, by Jacob Cooper. The Gates refer to the physical objects, or perhaps gates to other universes as in Arthur C. Clarke novels.  (Clifton is a street in Brooklyn, I think.) Cerrone set up the microphones and nearby MacBook and other electronic effects.  Somewhere along here, I noticed tht Timo used an iPad for the sheet music. 

There followed “Infinity Plunge” (2007), by Derek Johnson.  This piece sounded like a one-movement Sonata, more or less in the style of Prokofiev, with a touch of Tubin (the “Northern Lights” sonata came to mind). It was the first piece on the program with some genuine postromanticism and more conventional piano virtuosity (lots of complicated arpeggios) supported by the thematic material. After building to a violent climax, Johnson, instead of ending, provides an Epilogue in the manner of Sir Arnold Bax, quiet, but and almost pastoral, before rising to a final fortissimo on one high note. 

The last piece was “Authentic Presence” (2001), by Ingram Marshall, b. 1942 (the only composer represented over 30), who had been, in fact one of Timo’s piano teachers.  The piece had a familiar melody (as if I had heard it before in a movie score), and a somewhat Brahmsian cast and coda. (Neither of my piano teachers, both female, had composed; but a chorus teacher in middle school had.)

As a concert pianist, Timo exhibits the idea that the performing professional musician should act and treat himself as as if a pro athlete. Like ballet and singing opera, concert piano work makes extreme physical demands. One should become a triatholon contestant and maintain such level of physical fitness: be able to run a marathon, win a Tour de France (hopefully without shaving and most of all without PED's), pitch a no-hitter and bat over .300.   One must appear to be like one of Clark Kent's friends in "Smallville".  I sometimes wonder if Timo Andres and "Timo" Lincecum (the "Freak" who pitches for the San Francisco Giants) could trade places.  (As for no-hitters -- I expect that soon out of Nats' pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, but that's another blog posting.  At least pianists don't regularly face Tommy John surgery -- yet). Timo seems to accomplish an unbelievable amount of work (composing, performing, producing albums, graphical and web design, etc), hardly conceivable without "powers" or being "one of them" while waiting for "The Event" -- like "Clark", or Jake 2.0, or Sean (from that series), or Chuck (from "Buy More").  Take heed -- tomorrow's superstar -- and your boss-- will be a nerd.  

There were CD’s of Timo’s “Shy and Mighty” on sale, which I already have. By now, most of us have noticed that the piece “Flirtation Avenue” doesn’t belong in a wedding. It seems as though a lot of people in power these days don’t need more encouragement not to be faithful to spouses.  Need I mention names of  NY politicians, or speculate about the how at least one pol prepares for his photo pix?  Others in the media will.

I got to chat with Johnson afterward, and learned that Sibelius and Finale are considered much easier software to use for entering my own music than Apple's Logic, which I have been learning to use.


I heard that the storms canceled an even tin Central Park last night, and that the NY Philharmonic is not giving its Concerts in the Park this summer.
(As to Timo's recent missive on biker bad behavior -- the City says, "don't ride on the sidewalk if you're over the age of 12".  Yup, challenge those cars, go the wrong way.  Cause drivers near misses!  Make them feel guilty!)

Update: Nov. 21

Here's a story about "Sleeping Giants" and Beethoven Awareness Month on WQXR New York, by Nadia Sirota, "Timothy Andres: Bringing the virtuoso composer-performance tradition into the 21st Century", link here.  Who else besides Timo can make entire recitals of new music and draw a big crowd and make it work, even in the middle of enormous storms and fireworks aoutside. Welcome to timocracy.

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