By Abby Ang on July 27th, 2011 @ 12:51PM
This year, AMF is trying a new thing with their chamber concerts. Inspired by the idea of the "salon," or the name for the small gatherings that took place in the drawing rooms of the intellectual hundreds of years back, AMF decided to have our own "Salon Concert Series," which features an eclectic selection of chamber and solo repertoire, all chosen by the performers.
This was the second Salon Concert that I attended this season, and it was a mix of early music by Mozart and Bottesini as well as a large variety of more contemporary works, many premieres by our resident composers. It was delightful.
The program opened with ... y punto, composed by resident composer Jose Puello. Google translate tells me that "y punto" means something along the lines of "to point." A combination of percussion and cello, there was some interesting use of wooden blocks struck by the back of the mallets (stick rather than the head) interspersed by the haunting tones of the cello. This piece was followed by two movements of resident composer Julie Hill's Icarus Quartet, which I suspect has something to do with the myth of the boy with the wax wings who fell into the sea because he flew too close to the sun, and so forth. The music, for me, did call to mind the motion of the water and the heat of the sun on a summer day as the violins and viola produced an almost rollicking motion. There is a kind of perpetuality to the piece. The second movement was more contemplative, reminding me of the soundtrack to something (that I can't place my finger on).
From the 21st century, we went to the 19th with a vocal chamber piece. Shari Feldman of the Opera Workshop has a gorgeous voice!
Dover Beach is a personal favorite of mine. I first heard the chamber piece by Barber last year at the festival, sung by Stephen Lancaster. It was haunting and mysterious, perfectly suited to the theme of the text, and there happened to be a thunderstorm at the time, which also had a profound effect on me. Anyway, I had the chance to analyze the poem for one of my classes last semester, and it is a terribly cynical poem, sort of leading away from the romanticism of the early 19th century into a more Victorian cynicism (it would ultimately lead into modernist poetry, which is kind of the extreme end, but that's another story for another day). It's beautiful, with the mention of things romantic poets liked, such as the ocean, and the moon... but there is yet another element of human misery and a loss of faith:
Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
I love it though, and Ross Coughanour and the string players did it justice.
I want to skip ahead to the solo bass clarinet piece, curiously titled Press Release. My roommate, Krista Martynes, performed it, and it seems like such a complicated piece, with lots of strange jumps and tongue slaps (I think that's what they're called). There are also so many sudden changes in register, which seems as if it would be awfully difficult for anyone. People loved it, and she performed it wonderfully.
After some more delightful composer pieces, the concert ended with a Mozart Serenade, a perfect conclusion to a wonderful concert. Ultimately, it did provoke an exchange: "of ideas and emotions; from artist to artist, as well as from artist to audience."
The opinion expressed in this blog post are solely those of Abby Ang.