Tansy Davies’ Troubairitz (CD Review)

Tansy Davies
Toubairitz

Anna Snow, voice; Damien Harron, percussion; Azalea Ensemble; Christopher Austin, conductor
Nonclassical CD

A constant, if sometimes subtly articulated, pulse runs through much of British composer Tansy Davies’ Troubairitz, a portrait disc on the Nonclassical imprint. While percussionists Damien Harron and Adam Clifford perform their parts with sensitivity, and are seldom asked for a flurry of activity, their omnipresent exertions have certainly earned them overtime pay. Indeed, sometimes they are required to unfold multiple simultaneous tempi. The terse punctuations that undergird ensemble works such as Neon, Inside Out, and Grind Show demonstrate Davies’ affinity for experimental jazz and pop references. Like fellow British  composers Mark-Anthony Turnage and Oscar Bettison, she uses these vernacular references as a foil for the classical instrumentation and dissonant counterpoint that populate her works. Thus, listeners are apt to hear Radiohead and Matmos as much as Knussen and Andriessen serving as touchstones for these pieces. The result is a language that is pervasively energetic, at times spiky, but capable too of moments of delicate repose. The Azalea Ensemble, under the able direction of Christopher Austin, are keen interpreters of this supple and eclectic music.

Some of the most sensitively wrought pieces on the disc are its vocal selections. Again taking a cue from countrymen such as Peter Maxwell Davies and Gavin Bryars, Davies recalls early music in the title work, a song cycle based on 12th Century Provencal poems by female troubadours. Anna Snow’s voice,  deployed with sparing use of vibrato, seems ideally suited to “period informed” performance; yet she’s also able to conquer the postmodern pitch language and challenging tessitura of this work with assuredness.

Greenhouses, a setting of an excerpt from an email by Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist killed by Israeli forces while trying to prevent them from destroying Palestinian homes on the Gaza strip in 2003, is a thoughtful and touching piece. Davies is never heavy-handed in treating this delicate subject matter, but instead allows Corrie’s text a poignant, understated eloquence that is most affecting.

Hauschka: “The Key” (Video)

Hauschka
Salon des Amateurs
Fat Cat CD

Hauschka’s latest recording, Salon des Amateurs, continues his path of prepared piano explorations. But it includes additional layers of instruments, with a host of collaborators that includes John Convertino and Joey Burns (Calexico), and occasional Sequenza 21 blogger (and world famous violinist) Hilary Hahn.

Likewise, much has been made of its allusions to electronica and even dance music (the album is named after a club in Hauschka’s hometown Düsseldorf). But rather than seeming out of place, this becomes yet another facet of the musical landscape of Salon des Amateurs; playfully integrated with imaginative wit.


Hiphopera? MATA Festival Closer at LPR Tonight



The MATA Festival’s final performance is 7:30 PM tonight (5/12) at Le Poisson Rouge.

It features the Metropolis Ensemble, premiering several new works commissioned by MATA, including Ryan Carter’s Skeumorphic Tendencies and The Rake, a hip-hoperatic retelling of Stravinky’s Rake’s Progress by Brad Balliett and Sequenza 21′s own Elliot Cole. Ticket information can be found on LPR’s site or via Metropolis here.

A Burst of Blinding Clarity from Metropolis Ensemble on Vimeo.

Hauschka (Live video)


Pianist Hauschka moves closer to the motoric environs of minimalism and even house music on his latest release, Salon des Amateurs (FatCat).




HAUSCHKA ON TOUR
April 17 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
April 19 – Portland, OR @ Holocene
April 20 – Seattle, WA @ Triple Door
April 21 – Vancouver, BC @ Media Club
April 23 – New York, NY @ Joe’s Pub
April 24 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe
April 26 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s
April 28 – Toronto, ON @ Music Gallery
April 29 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Kuumbwa Jazz
May 1 – Los Angeles, CA @ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Owen Pallett on tour (video)



Indie songwriter/violinist Owen Pallett is an excellent example of an artist who blends pop and classical styles. Judging by his record sales, Pallett, at least initially, came at things starting from the pop vantage point. But his career is increasingly intersecting with venues and artists from the classical side of the ledger. For instance, his music was recently featured on the Ecstatic Music Series at Merkin Concert Hall, a festival that celebrated crossover and dialogue between indie and post-classical concert music.

This spring, he’s touring in support of his 2010 CD Heartland (Domino), his first recording with full orchestra (dates below). Among the performances are a full orchestral presentation of Heartland at the Barbican (London), a special performance at the String Theory Music Festival featuring Nat Baldwin of Dirty Projectors (Minneapolis), and a performance at the MusicNow Festival (Cincinnati).

He’s also released a video for album track “The Great Elsewhere,” directed by Yuula Benivolski and Geoffrey Pugen.



TOUR DATES

15th April, USA, Minneapolis, History Theatre (String Theory Music Festival)
20th April, GERMANY, Erlangen, Markgrafentheater
21st April, GERMANY, Berlin, Berghain (Friction Festival)
23rd April, POLAND, Gdansk, Centrum Stocznia Gdanska
25th April, SWITZERLAND, St. Gallen, Palace
26th April, SWITZERLAND, Fribourg, Fri-son
28th April, AUSTRIA, Krems, Halle 1 (Donau Festival)
30th April, DENMARK, Aarhus, Voxhall (Pop Revo Festival)
1st May, MALTA, Hamrun, Gejtau Band Club
4th May, SPAIN, Barcelona, Bikini
8th May, UK, London, Barbican Hall (Reverberations: The Influence of Steve Reich)
14th May, USA, Cincinnati, Memorial Hall (MusicNOW Festival)

Maya Beiser at the Rubin Museum tonight!

In the current economy – particularly in the recording industry –  expediency can sometimes trump artistry. All too often, classical artists with a recent CD release can’t afford to worry too much about the curatorial vision of a concert series on which they  appear: they’ve got to make their album’s program fit somehow in order to promote the product. Happily, there are times when an artist’s work and a venue’s vision come together seamlessly.

The Rubin Museum’s Resonating Light music series continues tonight  with a concert by cellist Maya Beiser. Her recording Provenance, released last year on Innova, explored music from disparate faith traditions, reflecting cultures that coexisted during the Middle Ages on the Iberian Peninsula.

Her program tonight takes a similar approach, bringing together music inspired by different religious traditions. But rather than just featuring music from Provenance in a “close enough” curatorial approach, Beiser studied the artworks in a recent exhibit at the Rubin entitled Embodying the Holy.

In response to the pieces on display, Bhe has programmed together works reflective of Orthodox Christianity (Arvo Pärt’s Fratres and John Tavener’s Lament To Phaedra) as well as Tibetan Buddism and other Easter philosophies (Even Ziporyn’s Kabya Maya and Douglas Cuomo’s Only Breath). Beiser’s arrangement of Max Bruch’s Kol Nidre represents Judaism. Rounding things out, Beiser is joined by accordionist Guy Klucevsek for Sofia Gubaidulina’s In Croce, arranged for cello and bajan.

Resonating Light: Maya Beiser

Rubin Museum of Art

150 W. 17 St., NYC 10011 · 212.620.5000

Sunday March 13, 2011 @ 6:00 PM (galleries open at 5:15)

Price: $35.00

Member Price: $31.50