Last Wednesday, February 28, I had the pleasure of seeing two superb up-and-coming chamber ensembles on a double bill at Music On MacDougal in downtown Manhattan.
The Moët Trio (Yuri Namkung, violin; Yves Dharamraj, cello; Michael Mizrahi, piano) had the first half of the program, and they opened with John Zorn’s Amour fou. The Zorn was a surprisingly modernist piece for a composer who is known as a pivotal figure in the downtown scene, and while I can’t say I liked it I definitly respected it. It was one of those pieces where every note was exactly the right note for what the piece was trying to do, from the scraping harmonics of the opening theme to the moments of wildness that occasionaly break out of the otherwise fairly chilled out atmosphere. Next was Richard Danielpour’s A Child’s Relquary, which was omposed in response to the death of conductor Carl St. Clair’s 18 month old son in 1999. The piece is romantic and lyrical–cinematic at times–and even in the context of a trio Danielpour’s mastery of orchestration is plainly evident.
After a brief intermission, the Attacca Quartet (Amy Schroeder, violin; Keiko Tokunaga, violin; Gillian Gallagher, viola; Andrew Yes, cello) launched into Gyorgy Ligeti’s String Qurtet No. 1, “Metamorphoses Nocturnes.” As with so much Ligeti, the piece starts out in a nice yet seemingly unremarkable way–chromatic lines over a drifting, slithering accompaniment. But Ligeti has a better intuitive sense of effective overall dramatic structure than just about anybody in the business, and that opening music evolves and builds, growing in intensity, and by the time the athletic second theme arrives about a minute and a half in everything makes sense. Those opening moments turn out to be critical to the overall architecture of the piece. After the Ligeti, which was the highlight of the evening, Attacca offered an excellent rendition of the String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10 by some guy named Claude Debussy. But that dude bought the farm way back in 1918, so I feel no obligation to talk about his piece.
Both groups played wonderfully throughout, and I look forward to hearing them again sometime soon. The next Music On MacDougal concert is this Wednesday, February 25, and features David T. Little’s Newspeak ensemble.