Thursday, December 10, 2015

Broken Consorts with Left Coast Chamber Ensemble

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble presented a charming concert Monday evening at the International School's small black box auditorium on Fell Street. Called Broken Consorts, because the pieces all featured unusual mixtures of instruments, the concert followed the usual Left Coast pattern of 19th century chamber music combined with modernist works including world premieres. The latter were provided by composer Richard Chowenhill above, starting with Mirrored...Reflections on Machaut.

Chowenhill radically reworked two secular and two sacred songs by the medieval French poet and composer for baritone (Daniel Cilli, above), cello (Tanya Tomkins), bass (Michel Taddei, and percussion (Loren Mach). The 15-minute cycle was both delicate and dramatic, and I would gladly hear it again.

This was followed by Tomkins on cello and Taddei on bass, playing Rossini's Duetto, a substantial trifle from his music parlor years in Paris after Rossini had retired from the opera and could make music for the amusement of his own circle of friends at home. Tomkins and Taddei looked to be having a blast playing it together.

This was supposed to be followed by a Xenakis piece for oboe and percussion, but Andrea Plesnarski explained that she had fallen ill and wasn't able to learn the piece, so she would be playing Luciano Berio's Sequenza VII for oboe instead, with the assistance of John Schott droning on electric guitar, along with Loren Mach on percussion and Tanya Tomkins on cello. The seven-minute piece was lively and abrasive, and Plesnarski gave a stand-out performance. My only advice for her is to make sure that the introduction to a musical work isn't longer than the piece itself.

After intermission, Plesnarski returned to play the English horn with bassist Michel Taddei for another Richard Chowenhill world premiere, The Sensation of Disarray, a short, sweet duet for "unlike instruments."

The final piece was The Ghosts of Alhambra, a set of seven short Garcia Lorca poems set by American composer George Crumb for baritone, guitar, and an array of percussion.

They varied enormously in dynamics and mood, and the performance was expert and committed by all.

Baritone Daniel Cilli, with what is becoming his hallmark versatility, sang, whispered, shouted, played musical instruments, and sounded beautiful and compelling throughout the whole concert. Can't wait to see where he pops up next.

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