We’ve profiled and interviewed composer Michael Hersch before here at S21. Unlike a lot of composers who lineage and influences I get pretty easily, In Hersch’s case there’s something coming from a place that I don’t get. And I tell you now, that’s a good thing. There isn’t a big grab bag of the latest tricks and fashions; the style could almost be called traditionalist. Yet there’s something at work that is so “interior”, an almost hermetic voice that owes nothing to anyone but the composer himself, that makes for a slightly unsettling but endlessly fascinating listen.
And tonight, for the first time since 2001, Michael Hersch himself is coming to NYC to play his own work. His recording of his sprawling, 2-hour piano work from 2005, The Vanishing Pavilions, was pretty highly praised here on its release; tonight Hersch plays his new 1-hour version, at Merkin Hall (8pm, details & tickets here), on a concert with his After Hölderlin’s ‘Hälfte des Lebens’ for viola and cello, played by the always-marvelous Miranda Cuckson and Julia Bruskin (this piece was premiered at a memorial concert held inside the Pantheon in Rome, just two months after September 11, 2001).
Here’s a small taste of The Vanishing Pavilions, Hersch playing movement 27 of the large version: