Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Downtown Fun with Brooklyn Rider

It wouldn’t be fair to let the day go by without a big shout-out to Brooklyn Rider, the cutting-edge string quartet who played a characteristically eclectic show last night at Pace University’s Schimmel Center downtown. There are dozens of great string quartets out there, but too few of them let their hair down and get into the music with the kind of unselfconscious exuberance these guys do. This wasn’t just a display of chops: it was about fun, and entertainment, and soul. And connections. They’ve just recently released a smartly thought-out album of Phillip Glass quartets (recently reviewed here): violinist Colin Jacobsen explained that he recently couldn’t get Joao Gilberto’s Undiu out of his head, since it reminded him so much of Glass. So he arranged the piece for the quartet, and they played it right after Glass’ Quartet No. 2 (the considerably pensive “Company” quartet, written to accompany the Samuel Beckett play). What a cool segue that was, playing up each work’s tricky, hypnotic circularity.

They also did an early Mozart piece; Jacobsen’s own intricate, playful Sherriff’s Lied, Sherrif’s Freude, drawing equally on Dvorak and bluegrass; a couple of captivating, more-or-less-horizontal works written by shakuhachi virtuoso Kojiro Umezaki, who joined them for second part of the show; and a bunch of sizzling gypsy dances, a couple with characteristically cinematic, deviously clever arrangements by violist Ljova Zhurbin, who was in the audience. If you follow this space, you’ve noticed that we’ve covered Brooklyn Rider a lot. This is one of the reasons why.

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July 13, 2011 Posted by | avant garde music, classical music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYU’s Repertory Orchestra: Ready for Prime Time

We were sussed to this one via an email from the extraordinary violist/composer/bandleader Ljova Zhurbin, who’s had a good year writing film and ballet scores (his eclectic Russian/gypsy/tango string group the Kontraband plays live for Aszure Barton’s Busk dance performance at the Baryshnikov Arts Ctr., 450 W. 37th St., – tickets are still available for one of the four remaining performances, 12/18 at 3 PM). Student orchestras have their ups and downs, which is understandable, but this year’s edition of the NYU Repertory Orchestra is Carnegie Hall-caliber. This performance was an unexpected treat, and it might have something to do with the fact that Zhurbin’s cellist pal Eric Jacobsen (from cutting-edge string quartet Brooklyn Rider and their sister orchestra the Knights) conducts the ensemble. It wasn’t just a matter of getting the notes and dynamics right: there were both chemistry and soul in the two pieces we managed to catch Friday night along with an obvious, high-spirited camaraderie between conductor and orchestra. They’re obviously psyched to have him out in front; he’s obviously psyched to have his finger on the pulse of this much up-and-coming talent. Some of these players will be filling the seats at Lincoln Center in a couple of years.

The Ljova composition Garmoshka (Russian for “button accordion”) was first on the bill, a characteristically wry, bittersweet waltz originally written for accordion and viola and lushly rearranged to air out a series of jaunty but wary motifs jeweled with tricky twists and turns as they alternate between various sections of the orchestra. It got warmer as it went along; it had a happy ending (it made its premiere at a wedding). The trickiest passages fell to the winds, who absolutely nailed them: Ashley Williams and SooA Kim on flutes; Matthew Brady and Andrew Policastro on oboes; Charles Furlong and Catherine Kim on clarinets and Sean Huston and Jordana Schacht-Levine on bassoons. And Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto (the first one he wrote, actually) wasn’t merely a case of the orchestra proving themselves able to follow the keyboard melody: they formed a seamless whole with Kiyomi Kimura’s ecstatic yet fluidly ripping fingerwork. As much as the program notes alluded to the fact that some listeners consider the piece overwrought, much of it is unselfsconsciously moving, particularly the final allegro vivace movement, which was given a vivid sense of longing and displacement. Pieces by Phillip Glass and Schubert were next after the intermission, but by then it was time (or so we thought) to go over the bridge to hear a bunch of noise-rock bands.

December 13, 2010 Posted by | classical music, concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment