TO . . ., 3
Veddy British Music
(Kraft) <> Going Into 'Understated Drive' (Kroll), 6
DOTTED NOTES from … Kraft, Kroll, Greenfest, Hickey, BLC, 16
SPEAKING OUT! Thoughts on the Pulitzer Prize, 17
THE PRINTED WORD Berger's Reflections (Kraft), 20
THE SCOREBOARD Sperry's Encores (Drogin), 21
Mini but Not Mousy
(Cleary) <> Bell's Echoes of Bela (Cleary) <> Just a Few Will Do (Cleary),
RECENT RELEASES, 24
THE PUZZLE CORNER, 25
COMPOSER INDEX, 27
BULLETIN BOARD, 27
Modern Orchestra Project
Shadows: Laurel Ann Maurer
Review of Concert
Alea III concerts normally feature multi-person ensemble configurations, but their most recent outing showcased a single performer, pianist Konstantinos Papadakis. It proved to be a most enjoyable experience, one in which no one missed having a crowd on stage.
Synaphes by Theodore Antoniou lays its three building blocks out one by one in plainest view: thundering Lisztian octaves, fragile special effects, and introspective verticals. Antoniou then proceeds to craft an attractive entry by contrasting and developing these materials in carefully considered fashion. There's enough variety here to sustain interest without having arbitrariness creep in. Luigi Nono's only work for a solo pianist, sofferte onde serene , pairs its player with a tape recording that derives its material from keyboard sources. Though openly espousing the hyper-complex 1950's pointillist aesthetic of Boulez and Stockhausen, Nono's piece contains a tellingly bleak feel and enough sense of direction to keep the listener engaged. Regrettably, the tape part appears to have deteriorated enough over time that the composer's wish to have the sound worlds meld into a hard-to-tease-apart whole can no longer be effectively realized.
Gyorgy Ligeti's splendid Etudes have seemingly become the latest virtuoso mountain every pianist wishes to scale, and four of these appeared on the program. The final selection, Makrokosmos I by George Crumb, is one of this tonemeister's most successful numbers, able to transcend its scattered organizational milieu and sizeable duration to put forth a magically timeless, incantatory sense of self. A special performance is required to draw out the piece's unique charms, and Papadakis was up to the challenge. His sense of pacing was thoughtful without being flabby (never lingering needlessly), and his feel for color was exquisite. In short, this was one of the best performances of the work your reviewer can recall.
Papadakis's presentation of the Antoniou and Nono demonstrated excellent control of line and mood as well as an agreeably wide loudness range. Regrettably, these qualities served the Ligeti less well; his laudable resolve to inject plenty of dynamic contrast and touch shaping on these showy selections squelched their sparkle and focus a bit. But for the most part, this recital was a winner, showing Papadakis to be a top-shelf player. Clearly, he needed no help in carrying the weight of Alea III's reputation for first-class music making on his broad shoulders. Very much enjoyed.