Saturday, March 30, 2013

Luciano Chessa and Benjamin Kreith at Duende

In the wilds of downtown Oakland last Saturday, composer Luciano Chessa and violinist Benjamin Kreith gave a concert at Duende, a trendy Basque tapas restaurant. The concert was called Garrett, Confusing Salon Music and Noise, and it thoroughly lived up to its name. I ran into Axel Feldheim from the Not For Fun Only blog, and he's written such a succinct, appreciative account of the afternoon that I am simply going to cut and paste with his permission and add some photos for your appreciation.

Avant-garde performance art shenanigans alternated with appealing violin pieces ranging from Schumann to Mr. Chessa's own compositions. Both musicians enacted their parts with exactness & a sense of purpose.

Mr. Chessa was explosive in his recitation of a Futurist sound poem by Francesco Cangiullo. He pounded on his music stand, imitated singing & bombast, & made words seem like colorful explosions.

He was goofy yet sincere in a Fluxus piece by George Maciunas in which he gently abused a violin. At one point he seemed about to eat the instrument.

Mr. Kreith played his solos pieces with great familiarity and affection. His playing had bite in the ludicrously brief movements of Erik Satie's Le Piège de Méduse.

He wore jingle bells on his right forearm while playing Mr. Chessa's Preludio e Siciliana & maintained a lovely, lilting quality.

In Mr. Chessa's pensive & pretty Analfabeta, Mr. Kreith provided a billowy undercurrent as the composer whispered a poem into a bullhorn, triggered sound samples, & played the piano.

The program included 3 improvisations utilizing an electronically amplified dan bau. I had to cover my ears during the most ear-piercing moments of Mr. Chessa's 1st improvisation. Mr. Kreith played the harmonica with unexpected facility in the 2nd improvisation.

The recital took place on the upstairs floor of Duende, overlooking the restaurant area. Since the space is open, the music competed with the crash of ice cubes being poured, a coffee grinder, & a screaming toddler. The small but receptive audience gave the event the feel of a private salon.

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