Sunday, April 26, 2015

David Kaplan plays the "New Dances in the League of David" (after Schumann) in DC; also some Andres and Brahms

Sunday evening, pianists David Kaplan and Timo Andres gave a concert from the National Gallery of Art West Garden in Washington DC (link ).  This concert is the 3049th such concert, in the 73rd Season of the William Nelson Cromwell and F. Lammot Belin Concerts. I attended one such concert in 1962 when I was a “patient” at NIH, and that would have been the 20th Season.
The first half of the program comprised soloist David Kaplan playing a commissioned resetting of the “New Dances of the League of David”, based on Robert Schumann’s Op. 6 “Davidsbundlertanze”, discussed here April 1.  Remember that this piece was based on the (Rosenfels) polarities, in the extroverted and introverted characters Florestan and Eusebius
The 18 pieces expand to 23, and other young (and mature) composers contributed to new settings, including Augusta Read Thomas (“Morse Code Fantasy”), Caroline Shaw, Martin Bresnick, Maros Balter, Gabriel Kahane, Timo Andres,  Andrew Norman, Mark Carlson, Mchael James Gandolfi (“Mirrors and Sidesteps”), Ted Hearne (“Dance with a sense of urgency”), Samuel Carl Adams, Caleb Burhans.
Yes, the “intrusions” are dissonant, but they rather work.  The entire work takes about 50 minutes and it seems episodic.  The most interesting effects occur in the Hearne piece, from a composer given possibly political satire (remember “Parlour Timocray”, in the middle of the 2011 debt crisis in Congress, see Aug. 24, 2011); here, Kaplan had to manipulate the piano strings directly to get the desired effects. 
The work finally concludes quietly with the final miniature of the original.  Along the way, Kaplan has displayed enormous and rather muscular virtuosity.
Timo Andres joined at the piano for the second half of the concert. The played first Timo’s “Retro Music” (sounds like it belongs in a disco, maybe the Town DC or 911 Club), and then the 8th piece from “Shy and Mighty,” (May 20, 2010) namely “How can I live in your world of ideas?” which is a kind of musical dialogue where the entropy continuously increases.  (I’m not sure I get fully the penguin analogy.)
The National Gallery of Art Vocal Ensemble joined the piano duet to perform four pieces from Johanes Brahms “Liebeslieder Waltzes” (Op. 52) and five pieces from “Neue Liebeslider”, Op. 65. 

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