Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Classical Party Music at Trinity Church

As much as musicians are accustomed to playing solo, it’s another thing entirely to play unaccompanied instrumentals in front of an audience. Thursday at Trinity Church, violist Yoon-Kyung Shin was up to the challenge. An intense, dynamic presence, she began the concert with Bach’s Suite No. 4 in E Flat, BWV 1010. It’s a series of six dance pieces: some of it, like the opening Prelude and lively Courante have the feel of etudes. But the rest of it, especially the brooding Allemande and slinky Sarabande gave Shin the chance to sway and dip for poignancy while keeping the stately beat. After all, this was party music, high-class 18th century style.

The party continued as Shin was joined by pianist Alexandria Le for Brahms’ Sonata for Viola and Piano in E Flat, Op. 120, No. 2. It’s a pretty amazing piece. On one level, from a 21st century perspective, it’s astonishing how Brahms was able to achieve so much diversity with it, and to keep it interesting for so long (it went on for at least fifteen minutes) using what appears to be simple major and minor chords. Of course, that’s not all that’s going on. Rich with allusions that artfully set up joyous resolutions, it’s anything but predictable, and Le had a great time with it, firing off one bullseye after another when the opportunities came along. With a playful camaraderie between the musicians, Shin’s steely resolve made a wryly fascinating contrast. Moving from the glittering, beery cheer of the opening Allegro Amabile, they backed away and let the starlit ambience speak for itself throughout the two closing movements

The two closed with Efrem Zimbalist’s Sarasateana Suite of Spanish dances, a considerably lighter suite, but not easy to play. Shin handled the lightning doublestops of the gypsy-rock flavored opening tango and miles-high astringencies of the Malaguena dance with effortless aplomb, Le digging in and lending a resonantly potent, Satie-esque plaintiveness to the quieter second movement. The party ended as it had began, the two joining forces energetically for the percussive clog dance movement to end it on a boisterous, carefree note.

May 29, 2011 Posted by | classical music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Album of the Day 5/29/11

More new stuff in the pipeline than we can keep track of: classical party music in the West Village and a wild night in Dumbo, among a million other things. In the meantime, as we do every day, our 1000 best albums of all time countdown continues all the way to #1. Sunday’s album is #611:

Sarah Vaughan – Sarah +2

To a generation of fans, Sarah Vaughan is divine; another camp (guess which one we’re in) thinks she could have done more with less. On this 1962 album she does exactly that, backed magically and tersely by Barney Kessel on guitar and Joe Comfort on bass. Kessel absolutely owns this album, reminding why he was was one of the most sought-after (and today, underrated) guitarists ever. No effects, no frills, no overplaying, just richly counterintuitive syncopation, surgical precision and a dynamic chordal attack, and Comfort’s even more minimalist bass is just as cool. The spacious arrangements mean that much of the time it’s Vaughan solo, or with the bass, or the guitar. The big hit here was The Very Thought of You. Just in Time starts out like Peggy Lee’s The Fever until the guitar finally comes in; When Sunny Gets Blue doesn’t have the intensity of Jeanne Lee’s version, but what does? All I Do Is Dream of You works surprisingly well with such a cosmopolitan arrangement, as does the stripped-down Ray Noble big band hit Goodnight Sweetheart. The early Ellington hit Just Squeeze Me nails the coyness of the theme. There’s also a wary reinterpretation of Bessie Smith’s Baby Won’t You Please Come Home and a dreamily surreal, bossa-tinged version of Key Largo. Here’s a random torrent.

May 29, 2011 Posted by | jazz, lists, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment