Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sarah Cahill and Adam Tendler at C4NM

In the intimate confines of the Center for New Music last Saturday evening, there was a dual piano recital by the Berkeley based Sarah Cahill above and the New York based Adam Tendler.

Sarah started her program with RCSC, a gorgeous 2001 piece by Annea Lockwood which required her to play both on the keys and on the strings inside the piano. Cahill has become such an adept at these techniques, possibly through her long acquaintance with Henry Cowell's piano works, that instead of seeming gimmicky, it looked and sounded perfectly natural. This was followed by one too many pieces by Hans Otte and ended with Terry Riley's 1994 Fandango on the Heaven Ladder, which Sarah introduced by reminding the audience that Terry Riley is a much deeper and more varied composer than the Father of Minimalism which he pioneered with In C.

Adam Tendler above started his recital with a short speech about gay rights and Matthew Shepard's murder in Wyoming before asking the audience to visit a website and start playing HATE SPEECH on their mobile devices when he sounded the first tones on the piano. The piano noodling, written by Tendler himself, was inconsequential but the ghostly sounds of the phones slightly out of sync with each other was extraordinary. The piece was premiered at the already legendary Brooklyn hipster joint, Roulette, last year and it was exciting to hear it live in the Tenderloin.

Without any further addressing of the audience and working from memorization without any scores in front of him, Tendler played the 1941 Three Preludes by Robert Palmer, The Slow Melt by Anthony Porter which was a mesmerizing, strange piece that evoked the natural world collapsing, Luciano Chessa's 2009 lesbian piece Tomboy for piano and video involving lots of feet, and ended with a 1968 Philip Glass composition called Two Pages. The last was a piece of hardcore minimalism that kept getting more hypnotic the longer it lasted, and at a certain point everyone was looking at each other with disbelieving looks. "He actually memorized the whole thing?"

During his introduction, Tendler confessed to being a longtime fan/worshiper of Sarah Cahill, who specializes in the work of contemporary composers. The two were a good fit because they share a style that can best be described as simultaneously discerning and ecstatic.

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