Portrait of a Young Protégé

03/09/2015

United StatesUnited States Mostly Mozart Festival 2015 (2), Dai Fujikura: International Contemporary Ensemble, Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), Kaplan Penthouse, Lincoln Center, New York City. 13.8.2015 (BH)

Dai Fujikura (b. 1977)

flicker (2011)
Calling (2011)
halcyon (2011)
Returning (2006)
Sakana (2007)
The Voice (2007)
Glacier (2010)
Breathless (2004)

International Contemporary Ensemble – David Bowlin (violin), Kyle Armbrust (viola), Michael Nicolas (cello), Claire Chase (flute), Joshua Rubin (clarinet), Rebekah Heller (bassoon) & Cory Smythe (piano)

Guest: Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano and toy piano)

After experiencing a fireball like George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, normally I would prefer a break, without any music at all for a day or so. But in another insightful move from the Mostly Mozart Festival, the opera’s second performance was followed by an hour of works by Dai Fujikura, one of Benjamin’s most restless students. Held in the glamorous Kaplan Penthouse, this survey of Fujikura’s recent work fairly exploded under the keen care of the International Contemporary Ensemble, with amusingly brief contributions by Pierre-Laurent Aimard.

Fujikura has an intense appetite, and not just for sounds. In her introduction, Claire Chase (ICE’s flutist and artistic director) began by describing his visit to a New York city restaurant, where he ordered a lobster roll, a bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich, and a hamburger. (The composer cuts a slim profile, so draw your own metabolism conclusions.)

Aimard and cellist Michael Nicolas began with flicker (2011), a short flurry of micro-Morse Code blips: piano sprinkled on top of staccato cello notes. Nicolas returned later with the extraordinary bassoonist Rebekah Heller for The Voice (2007). As he and Heller leapfrogged over each other, they illuminated a droll study for two instruments not often paired, creating a striking marriage. Heller had her own riveting moments in Calling (2011), a growly paean to the bassoon that seemed to display every single technique available, like some unearthly peacock slowly unfurling its feathers.

Pianist Cory Smythe did elegant work with the intricacies of Returning (2006), which made a well-conceived preface to Sakana (2007), with saxophonist Ryan Muncy skating effortlessly from barely audible multiphonics to full-bore metallic groaning. This is what it’s like to observe a saxophone being born.

A quartet of Mr. Nicolas, violinist David Bowlin, violist Kyle Armbrust, and clarinetist Joshua Rubin breathed life into halcyon (2011), a landscape with percussive scuttlings interrupted by some mesmerizing sustained notes from Rubin. And Chase returned to offer Glacier (2010), her resonant alto flute tone echoing as if through vast, forlorn canyons.

Just when you thought the evening couldn’t get any better, Ross Karre, ICE’s percussionist, walked out with a shiny red toy piano, solemnly raising its lid (cue audience laughter). Returning with a deadpan Mr. Bowlin (this time in pizzicato mode), Aimard assumed an awkward kneeling position in front of the instrument for Breathless (2004), lasting scarcely sixty seconds.

Bruce Hodges

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Musikfest Berlin 2020 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month