When New York Empties Out, Bargemusic Floats In

United StatesUnited States  Here and Now: Labor Day Festival: Soloists, Mark Peskanov (director and violin), Bargemusic, New York City. 4.9.2015 (BH)

John Zorn: Zeitgehöft (72 anamneses of Paul Celan) (2013, New York premiere)
Michael Nicolas (cello), Jennifer Choi (violin)

Morton Subotnick: Falling Leaves (2012)
Kathleen Supové (piano)

Andrew Rudin: Soliloquy for cello solo (World premiere)
Samuel Magill (cello)

Richard Sussman: Trio for Violin, Piano, and Laptop (World premiere)
Jennifer Choi (violin), Kathleen Supové (piano)

Gordon Beeferman: Occupy Bassoon (2015, New York premiere)
Peter Kolkay (bassoon)

David Del Tredici: To Be Sung on the Water (World premiere)
Mark Peskanov (violin), Michael Nicolas (cello)

Dalit Warshaw: Encounters (World premiere)
Dalit Warshaw (piano)

David Taylor: Concertino (World premiere)
David Taylor (bass trombone), Ron Stabinsky (piano), Mathew Elliot (contrabass), Kevin Shea (percussion)

Late summer can be a desolate time for New York music lovers. But in the last few years Mark Peskanov, the head of Bargemusic, has engineered a festival called Here and Now, which floods Labor Day weekend with contemporary music.

This year’s slate was more eclectic than usual, with five world premieres among the eight works. Jennifer Choi (violin) and Michael Nicolas (cello) gave the night a bracing shot of adrenalin with John Zorn’s Zeitgehöft (72 anamneses of Paul Celan). Bristling clouds of tremolos and pizzicato were occasionally interrupted by high violin frequencies, like an ethereal dog whistle. Watching this duo—as with most of these performers—was to be reminded once again of the unusually high quality of musicians in New York.

In the agile hands of pianist Kathleen Supové, the spare textures of Morton Subotnick’s Falling Leaves made the occasional outbursts at either end of the keyboard even more surprising. Supové returned later with Choi for Richard Sussman’s Trio for Violin, Piano and Laptop (the composer at the computer), a funky spree launched by clicks and electronic beats that reaches a fearsome climax about halfway through.

One of the night’s high points came when Samuel Magill, a cellist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, debuted Andrew Rudin’s Soliloquy, its soulful lines punctuated by delicate pizzicato passages and occasional gruffness. Rudin’s study—as if peering inside a restless mind—was written for Magill, who gave it luster and focus.

Like many of today’s composers, Gordon Beeferman often writes with politics on his mind, and Occupy Bassoon was inspired by Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that began in 2011. In the work’s final part, “Drumming and Chanting,” Peter Kolkay, a bassoonist who regularly appears with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, played what he described as a “multiphonic with a timbre trill—for extra noise.” It was actually more than a little disturbing.

David Del Tredici—who marked his 78th birthday this year—was on hand for To Be Sung on the Water, a confection dispatched with energy and high spirits by Nicolas and Peskanov. (Yes, in addition to running Bargemusic, he finds time to actually play violin.) And only confirming Peskanov’s wide-ranging curatorial instincts, the evening was completed by pianist Dalit Warshaw playing her Chopin-infused Encounters, and trombonist David Taylor leading a trio of Ron Stabinsky (piano), Mathew Elliot (contrabass), and Kevin Shay (percussion) in his latest jazz opus, a moody Concertino.

Bruce Hodges

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