Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Inbal Segev and Fernardo Otero Kill the Lights at le Poisson Rouge

To play the cello, you have to be comfortable in the dark. Wednesday night at le Poisson Rouge, cellist Inbal Segev and her old Juilliard pal, pianist Fernando Otero, treated a sold-out crowd to a performance as deep and intense as they could have possibly delivered. Segev wasted not a single second in setting the tone for the night, digging in mightily with a solo rendition of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011. As the chords opening the initial prelude roared through the club’s PA system, it was clear that she was going to follow this haunted road as far as it led. For awhile, it was heavy metal, 1725 style. And when the fugal second part began, she let its stately nonchalance speak for itself, its long sequence of broken chords dancing on a grave, maybe.

Otero, known for his uncompromising, slashing melodic attack and fearlessly dark lyricism, joined her for a set of five of his pieces. Milonga, the first, was done as a murky modal tableau, basically a one-chord rumble like Cecil Taylor in a long brooding moment. It built to rapidfire lower-register boogie that gradually added an otherworldly deep-space glimmer as he developed it, one hand playing off the other with a staccato that surprisingly wasn’t crushing but very subtly modulated: a heavy piece done with dynamics that its mighty wallop overshadowed. Segev got the chance to accent the boogie with a savage staccato and lit into it with relish. The two musicians seem to be kindred spirits, with an easy chemistry that contrasted with the unease and sometimes outright anguish of the material. A song without words artfully contrasted Segev’s apprehensive precision against Otero’s minutely jeweled, otherworldly glimmering righthand clusters; they closed with a diptych with echoes of Satie, Chopin’s E Minor Prelude and ELO, rivulets playing wildly against Segev’s stoicism followed by an animated chase scene that ended on a disconcertingly ambiguous note.

Segev closed with a stunning solo rendition of Kodaly’s Sonata, Op. 9 for Solo Cello. It’s a genuinely phenomenal piece of music, decades ahead of its time. Segev shared some of the highlights beforehand with the crowd, noting that it dates from the same year – 1917 – as the famous Debussy Cello Sonata, and offered a taste of some of the highlights, which utilize a lot of pizzicato and some delicious chordal slipsliding late in the piece. But all the pyrotechnics paled next to the chilling, proto-Shostakovian, stygian mourning of the adagio movement. Opening with some jarring juxtapositions leading into plenty of suspense, it becomes a relentless, crushing dirge before finally reaching for a somewhat macabrely charged energy in the third movement, a thicket of extremely difficult passages simultaneously bowed and plucked (Segev had it down cold) lit up with numerous quotes from Hungarian folk dances. Kodaly, like Bartok, did some serious research in the countryside before embarking on this dangerous journey. The crowd screamed for an encore and Segev rewarded them with a lickety-split, doublestop-driven, perfectly precise version of a sizzling bluegrass theme by fellow cellist Sean Grissom.

June 4, 2011 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment