Thursday, May 29, 2014
"Law of Mosaics" by Ted Hearne, earlier quartet of Timo Andres offered in the Village; I hear it "in absentia"; also, Mozart's last piano concerto
I didn’t make it to an interesting concert May 28 at Le Poisson Rouge in New York (a favorite spot; the closest thing in DC to it is the 9:30 club), but I played some of the music today. So I guess I managed to duplicate my body after all.
The PR’s resident chamber orchestra played two important new works (not premieres) under Christopher Roundtree.
The biggest of these was “Law of Mosaics” by Ted Hearne, link here, a 30-minute suite in six movements, which the composer describes as “How to deal with parts in the absence of wholes”, that is, how to deal with things you find when you don’t know the context. That’s been a big issue before when people find pieces of my content online (like when I was substitute teaching – so maybe this work should get performed someday by orchestra students at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, VA). The first movement dives in with “Excerpts from the Middle of Something”, and establishes a meandering, declamatory style with lots of masses sounds. The longest movement follows, “Palindrome for Andrew Norman” (another composer). Remember that Paul Hindmith’s Horn Concerto ends with a palindrome. There’s a quote from the slow finale of the Mahler Ninth embedded. The third movement is “Climactic moments from (Barber’s) Adagio for Strings and (Vivaldi’s) The Four Seasons, slowed down and layered on top of one another”. The Barber is conspicuous, and recalls the mood (for me at least) of the country right after the Kennedy assassination in 1963. The fourth movement, “Beats”, is such (not hip-hop) but offers a voice setting the tempo. The fifth movement recalls the third in retrospect (Brahms did that in his Third Sonata), with “Climactic moments from Movement 3, three times as slow as before”, except that it didn’t seem slower. The finale is “The Warp and Wolf” and gets a little nearer to post-romanticism, with a passage that sounds like the Strauss Metamorphesen at the very end. The piece (2013) was commissioned by "A Far Cry" in Massachusetts.
Another work is an earlier string quartet (#1 ?) by Timo Andres, “Thrive on Routine” (2010), (link) about 14 minutes, in four connected sections “Morning, Potatoes, Passacaglia, and Coda”. This setup roughly resembles the Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes, and the style here seems to mix eclectic with a little pastoral mood. The “routine” is supposed to be that of a New England (or perhaps Idaho) potato farmer who gets up at 4 every morning. (I hate getting up at 4 AM to catch flights but have to do it.) The material gradually grows more complex as the piece progresses.
Heane and Andres have collaborated, as in August 2011 when Hearne wrote “Parlor Diplomacy” for Timo to perform, a bit of satire of partisan politics (the debt ceiling crisis had been going on). It seems as though “Timo” is a trendy first name these days (under age 30 right now), maybe a bit European.
I’ve covered Benjamin Britten’s “Young Apollo” before (June 13, 2012). That leaves the Mozart Concerto. I’m going to talk about a different one; instead of 12, I’ll look at 27. That’s the last of the Mozart Piano Concertos, K. 595, in B-flat. There are many versions on YouTube, like this one by Trevor Pinnock, with the Oedipus Coloneus:
That particular performance is followed by an encore: two movements from what sounds like a Mozart 4-hand Sonata in D.
The B-flat concerto is long (30 minutes) but is remarkable for its gentleness and understated subtlety, long after the stormy D Minor and C Minor concerti, and the Coronation (which Timo “recomposed” with a modern left-hand part). I’m going to pretend that Timo played the K 595 instead because it’s of particular interest to me. As a senior in high school, I studied it and got so I could play the piano part reasonably well. (The other Mozart work I worked with a lot was the D Minor.) Had my life gone differently and had I wound up in piano, this would have been in my repertoire early. It seems the last work of a particular period or style. What would follow would be Beethoven, although the Beethoven B-flat concerto is still gentler than his others. But even the official Concerto #1 in C seems to announce a new era.