CONTACT! Live Blogging; “Detailed Instructions”

8:36PM – As the musicians change for the Muhly piece, John Schaefer has a few words on stage with Magnus Lindberg . . . Lindberg is talking about the importance and legacy of what he calls the “sinfonietta” world, which is essentially the chamber orchestra, colorful but small ensembles, cheaper to run, flexible, great for contemporary composers . . . Muhly and Schaefer are talking about why he replaced violins with violas . . . hey, I like the viola, leave it alone, Schaefer, if it’s good enough for Mozart and the Symphony of Psalms, it’s good enough for you, buddy . . . Beguiling start to this piece, a gentle, short lyric over an odd-metered, shuffling pulse in the percussion, notes rising in the instruments, working together at times and bumping into each other as well . . . syncopated eighth note pulses in the woodwinds, like what David Lang does, with a hint of a long-toned horn melody . . . basic rhythmic pulse is being passed around, as well as this intriguing, mournful melodic gesture, rising in short intervals, almost keening higher than falling in a large interval . . . the music seems to be in a constant state of transition, which is something that music can do so well as an art form . . . now the textures are thinning out, more dissonance is coming in, emotions are attenuating . . .

. . . 2nd movement; slow, quiet, ringing, a simple line in the piccolo, sounds almost like a Lou Harrison symphony . . . a full-fledged piccolo solo over slowly shifting bed of music, limpid sound shapes drifting right and left across the aural horizon . . . quite lovely this . . . this is really a pleasure to listen to, building beautiful textures, sensations and sonorities . . . also has that thing John Adams does so well, the yearning, willful melody over a rich bed of sound, the sound is sympathetic but they seem to occupy different worlds, an interesting idea of coordination and society, one’s place in the universe, or the actual location of one’s navel, found while gazing at it . . . tuba burbles, english horn sighs, bucolic final bars . . .

. . . 3rd movement . . . quarter note pulse, kicked around with a few extra eighth notes . . . piano pulses and arpeggiates, flutes spell out chords, clarinets chug underneath . . . this is Muhly as post-Minimalist, combing procedures from Reich and Adams . . . the music is clearly made here but seems to have a little less focus, as if he’s sure he wants the notes laid out the way they are, but not sure why there should be any notes at all . . . structurally, he’s recalling the first movement now, binding things together with purpose . . . ends a little abruptly . . . lots of good music in that piece, some lovely, complex expressions.  Take a bow, Nico . . .

. . . and . . . intermission.  Be back in a bit, peeps and tweeps and sheeps.


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