Wednesday, September 24, 2014

California Culture 2: Patterns of Plants

There are very few artists as quintessentially Californian as the pianist Sarah Cahill, seen above playing at the Redwood Regional Park in the Oakland Hills last Sunday at an event I'll describe in a later post.

Sarah specializes in contemporary classical music, often commissioning works from living composers, but her musical interests are catholic and wide. She began playing the composer Mamoru Fujieda's piano pieces in 1997, and has just recorded a 2-CD set of 32 of his "plant patterns."

Though Fujieda, above, was born and lives in Japan, in his youth he studied with the composer Morton Feldman at UC San Diego, so in a sense he's an adopted Californian.

I have heard Sarah play selections from the short piano pieces at various recitals, and they were almost too gentle to make any kind of impression. On a recording, though, used as background, they become quite trancelike and interesting. The CDs by the small San Francisco producers at Pinna Records are beautifully produced, including one of the most striking cardboard package designs in a long time. To order a copy, click here.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sarah gave a recital at the UC Berkeley Women's Faculty Club of over a dozen of the pieces, interleaved with a few doses of French Baroque composer Fran├žois Couperin. The cozy front room in the beautiful John Galen Howard clubhouse is a perfect setting for a chamber music concert, and there was even a lovely buffet afterwards along with an outdoor patio to dine. Plus, admission was free, which felt like a small miracle.

1 comment:

John Marcher said...

In this particular case the exquisite packaging is surpassed in quality by the music. I put the first disc on expecting to listen to just a little bit of it before going to bed, and ended up listening to the entire thing (both discs). It's one of best albums I've heard in some time.