The Fromm Gamers at Harvard College supplied a protracted program, “Procession,” on Friday night, carried out by the Klangforum Wien, an ensemble that introduced collectively 22 gamers and conductor Johannes Kalitzke to Sanders Theatre. The live performance consisted of two current works of enormous proportions, every lasting an hour. Harvard’s Chaya Czernowin, who curated the present and made introductory remarks; in a well-printed handout Tim Rutherford-Johnson’s temporary however frothy notes generally helpfully indicated what to anticipate.
Prozession by Enno Poppe (b. 1969) wanted a big ensemble on the Sanders stage, framed at 4 corners by 4 percussionists, every with a gaggle of drums, blocks, and cymbals; every group included a coated bass drum, and one participant had two bass drums. There was a palpable sectional construction over the hour’s music, and percussion fashioned the sectional boundaries. The start was ultra-quiet (marred by a crying child who quickly exited the corridor) however punctuated by tomtoms and bongos performed with raindrop-like fingered notes, and I remembered that Burt Bacharach had died solely two days earlier. Quickly these have been joined by glissing strings and bent pitches on the flute (there was even a bass flute), excessive horn notes, and precise chordal sounds, organ-like amid string squeals, with rhythmic clusters of brass with many alternative mutes, and crescendo to fff . Abruptly there was a dramatic changeover in all 4 percussions from onerous picket sticks to steel brushes, and this was an obvious demarcation between sections (9 “lifecycles,” in response to the notes). It was fascinating to see the conductor furiously beating small measures in what was typically a really gradual texture filled with small element — and this was a part of the procession that grew to become increasingly distinguished via the hour, generally even with an everyday although glacial pulse. The double-bass participant, of brief stature and standing on the entrance of the ensemble, was particularly lively, usually reaching desperately over the instrument’s shoulder to realize possibly the 15th place earlier than hurrying down the fingerboard to play an arpeggio, and far of this may very well be heard. This bassist quickly engaged in a pointed duo with contrabass clarinet, a scary however expressive low-register sound. Following a return to picket sticks and sfz strokes, as the feel grew in quantity, electronics from two synthesizers made their method into the general sound, alternating with woodwind-brass expostulations. Finally, chordal clusters with a virtually harmonic perceptibility got here to dominate the sound, and within the final moments there was a downward drift of texture carefully resembling a movement of actual chordal roots, simply earlier than the motion shifted again to the 4 bass drums, this time brushed with shoe brushes, a wispy breezelike sound that was each affecting and stress-free. Afterward, a widely known composer opined to me that the sounds and the construction alike have been well-motivated however the entire piece might simply have been ten minutes shorter.
After a 30-minute intermission, Chaya Czernowin’s The Fabrication of Gentle started with a smaller ensemble — single winds, solo string quintet, 2 percussion, piano, electronics. Some variations from Poppe’s work in instrumental approach have been noticeable from begin to end — snapped strings (Bartók signal), air-blowing via brass, Firebird glissandi in strings, rips (glissando via overtones) in brass, rim photographs on snare drum answered by finger tremolos on bongos, the presence of pitched mallet devices (however no crotales). All of those, punctuated by glissandi and col legno battuto strings, got here in bursts that the composer stated have been organized in spirals, however the spirality was not apparent. There gave the impression to be a distant procession sometimes, marked by a bass drum beat or different timekeeper. Woodwind warbling figures (together with some neat piccolo) alternated with very excessive string trills, yielding to a brief passage with rainsticks, offset by inside-the-piano brushes. I famous two sorts of trumpets, one in all them a smaller instrument with upward-pointed bell like Dizzy Gillespie’s. One might really feel as a lot as hear the sustained low octaves, contrabassoon and tuba, and the gradual 4/4 procession of many delicate stretches of sound — string ponticello tremolo, ready piano, two triangles with hooked up jingles (a brand new sound for me), finally constructing to a fff torrent of digital white noise that lasted nicely over a minute and appeared fairly incomprehensible, with simultaneous solo strings taking part in furiously however fully inaudibly. After this there was one other spiral, a duet of woodblocks accompanied by a jazz pizzicato double bass, bowed notes on the vibraphone, and soft-stick glisses on vibraphone and marimba with artificial drumbeats protecting tempo. Snare drum sticks rolling on the hi-hat cymbals, and a bizarre second of string and wind gamers whispering via cones of rolled-up paper — these preceded the emergence of longer low notes mainly on C, which grew to become insistent. Close to the top there was a nagging outburst of sharp woodblocks performed, I imagine, with glockenspiel sticks (brass ideas), and an everyday beat of string glisses and brass rips, after which a sudden ending. The whole work transpired in discrete bursts of coloration; this veritable thesaurus of timbres, noticed first one after which the opposite―continuously in movement however not transferring.
It was becoming to listen to these two totally different works collectively as a result of they have been related in so some ways. There was a virtually overwhelming preponderance of sostenuto — very lengthy and really loud tones, particularly within the winds, as if imitating digital sound; apart from possibly fifteen or twenty seconds, there was no quick tempo no matter throughout your complete night. The flailing percussion was usually furioso and all over the place, however with no jazz pulse to maneuver it ahead, and the profusion of devices surrounding a single percussionist goes all the way in which again to Berio’s Circles (which I heard at Harvard in 1961) and even lengthy earlier than. However the instrumental execution appeared faultless, particularly the percussion, and the conducting very exact. The viewers, in a half-filled Sanders Theatre, was respectful, and appeared to benefit from the efficiency even when not absolutely comprehending the music. “One thing has occurred right here that I’ve by no means written earlier than,” Enno Poppe is quoted as saying. Sure, nevertheless it was Wagner who wrote “So ward noch nie komponirt” on the finish of the sketch of Tristan und Isolde, Act I.
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