Sunday, January 11, 2015

Timo Andres plays Schubert, Glass at the Philips collection in Washington DC

Today, Timo Andres gave a piano recital in the Music Room at the Phillips Collection near Dupont Circle in Washington DC.  Timo (who lives in Brooklyn NY) has returning from a “road trip” where he had “played” at UNC Chapel Hill and then in Raleigh NC three nights, and then an “afternoon game” in Washington (about four miles from Nationals Park, thank you) – risky in the winter, more so in the South than in areas that are used to snow and ice.  I-95 in bad weather is not fun.

He had played George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” (E Major) and his own second piano concerto, called “Old Keys” with the North Carolina Symphony.  I didn’t make it down there, given the weather and all the distracting news, but I want to hear “Old Keys” as soon as possible, maybe online if necessary.  I understand he is working on another concerto for Jonathan Biss, and I think there has been mention of a violin concerto, or did I just dream that.

His concert today opened with “At the River”, reviewed here earlier April 5, 2013.  I can only add that I was struck again by the gradual progression from Debussy-like Rosicrucian impressionism, into expressionism, with an odd (though ultimate quiet conclusion) where it seems like some music sounding like “Modern Family” is harmonized in lush twelve-tone, Schoenberg style, over a descending ground bass figure.  (The notes say that the chorale theme is predicated on the church hymn “Shall We Gather at the River?”) There are lots of delicious sextuplets in the high registers all along.  Timo is a part of a group of young NYC composers called “the Six Sleeping Giants” – and, no, I can’t name “Les Six” from France right now. 
The rest of the concert comprised an alternation of three Impromptus by Franz Schubert, each followed by an Etude by Philip Glass, known from his characteristic and repetitious film scores (like “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Kundin”, “The Hours” ). Glass had contributed a piano piece to the film “Stoker”.  Andres asked the audience to "hold applause" until after the last of the sequence of six pieces.
The Schubert impromptus were F Minor, Op. 142 #1, A-flat Major, Op. 142 #2, and C Minor. Op. 90 #1. All three end quietly.  The first is almost like a “concert overture” for piano.  The A-flat is not the more familiar one in the same key from Op. 90 that starts with arpeggios in A-flat minor, which I played when I took piano.  The third of these was the most familiar.

The Glass Etudes (14, 16, and 20) sounded like they were in G Minor, A-flat, and F minor.  They were tonal, and did not have as much dissonance as most contemporary music.  (The Ligeti etudes, reviewed last summer, are more dissonant.)  As an encore, Mr. Andres played another Glass impromptu, which I believe was in C Minor.  All of the pieces ended quietly.

Let me mention one of my favorite Schubert implementations: the film "Sunshine" (2000), by Istvan Szabo, about three generations of a Jewish family in Hungary (enduring the Nazis and then Soviet occupation), from Paramount and Alliance Atlantis, with the Schubert 4-hand Fantasy in F Minor (D940) in the background used most effectively. 

The concert did sell out.
The music room is darkly lit, since there are oil originals all around – every room in the museum has a humidifier, and of course no flash photography can be allowed.  I had attended a couple concerts there way back in late 1962 when I was a “patient” at NIH.  (It’s in a separate building – the museum has several – on the second floor;  there is a larger auditorium, too.)  The piano sound had tremendous dynamic range but the top notes could have used a little more ring – maybe it’s a function of room acoustics, or of 70-year-old inner ears.  

Update: Jan 15

Timo does a cooking show for XOXO cooks in Brooklyn, link here, fixing a steak salad. Will he get on one of the big daytime shows, like Ellen, Meredith, or Rachel?  The eclectic chamber music in the background is familiar, but I'm not sure which piece.

Update: May 25, 2015

Timo's recital was broadcast on 90.9 WETA FM Classical in Washington DC Memorial Day at 9 PM EDT.

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