Such is my devotion to you, dear reader, that last Wednesday in spite of a bad cold I went to the latest installment of the Music On MacDougal series at the Players Theatre in downtown Manhattan. Music on MacDougal, as you may recall, is the concert series that S21 helped kick off with our M50 concert celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Minimalism. Wednesday’s bill was split between Mantra Percussion and the Talea Ensemble [Talea shown above, in a recent performance of Daniel Iglesia's Contrapositive Antidote; how cool is it to get to wear 3D glasses while playing? -ed.].
Mantra opened with the always mesmerizing “Music for Pieces of Wood” by Steve Reich, and then moved on to a new piece by Kyle Hillbrand called “Aether.” “Aether” was a surprisingly and refreshingly low-key piece–quiet, subtle, lovely, featuring a lot of very effective unison between the two players. Mantra closed with Iannis Xenakis’s 1978 rock-out “Peaux.” Some enterprising person has posted the performance on YouTube, although for obvious reasons this video doesn’t come close to capturing the intensity of the live experience. Mantra is one of the co-commissioning ensembles for a new Michael Gordon piece to be premiered in December 2009, and has a CD coming out on Innova next month.
Talea’s repertoire was mostly too Uptown for my taste, but the performances were excellent and it’s great that Music on MacDougal is programming such a wide range of styles. Talea has only been around since early 2007, but they already have a very full concert schedule and they’re especially dedicated to championing new and recent work by lesser-known composers, so keep an eye out for this group. For me, the most interesting piece on the Talea program was Alexandre Lunsqui‘s “Ruptura(s),” written in 2004 for vibraphone and piano, which featured sharp jumps between different demented (in that good way) grooves.
The next Music On MacDougal show will be Likeness to Lilly on January 28th.