Tue. May 30th, 2023

Monica Ohuchi performing Kenji Bunch’s “Etudes” at Makrokosmos III in 2017.

Concern No Music’s inventive director Kenji Bunch is a gifted programmer, to not point out, composer and violist. He plans concert events that open ears to music we’ve by no means heard–and, typically, to music we’re uncomfortable with. Although a pacesetter in exploring and exposing so-called “new music,” he’s not starry-eyed about it; as soon as performed, the music falls into the old-music file. All the pieces builds on every little thing else–and that idea impressed FNM’s Legacies 1: The Inventive Continuum live performance Nov. 30 at Portland’s The Previous Church. You’ll be able to’t sort out the brand new until you course of the outdated, Grammy-nominated rapper Tobe Nwigwe says, (although he was not a part of this live performance).

Bunch and FNM push the envelope for audiences hesitant to develop their concepts about what music might be, although FNM audiences lean strongly towards the musically open-minded. Nonetheless, Bunch buildings performances in order that alienating or troublesome items are balanced by newly beloved ones.

Take Alfred Schnittke, the mid-Twentieth-century Russian composer identified for “polystylism” and his deep darkish lengthy have a look at man’s non secular struggles. Bunch has a comfortable spot for the composer, who was one of the crucial in style within the mid-to-late Twentieth-century. Schnittke was a part of the mid-century Soviet avant-garde, and his 1976 Piano Quartet, a uncommon piece of his chamber music and fortunately solely 8 minutes, integrated harsh shifts of favor from Baroque to excessive trendy dissonance. The quartet, performed within the first a part of the live performance,  was taxing to hearken to, and judging by the winces among the many pews, it assaulted the ears of among the most musically liberated. One man stated he nearly walked out of the church, and I’m certain that sentiment has been shared by others in the course of the 50 years that Schnittke’s work has been performed—and it has been performed typically. In fact, the FNM musicians—violinist Inés Voglar Belgique, Bunch on viola, cellist Nancy Ives and pianist Monica Ohuchi—are top-drawer and had been capable of soften the blow. Intermission was welcome.

Schnittke, gratefully, was a small a part of the live performance, which partially celebrated the primary of FNM’s 25-year-old Younger Composers Venture. This month’s live performance featured composer Nathan Campbell, a pianist in Bellingham, Wash., who studied in earlier years with FNM pianist/co-founder Jeff Payne, the shepherd of the composer-mentoring program. Other than paying tribute to a former student-turned-composer (as FNM will in a number of subsequent concert events), this system drew a throughline, starting with Campbell’s meditative and mystical 2014 Cloud Valley for 4 cellos. The piece’s efficiency was held collectively deftly and unobtrusively by Oregon Symphony principal cellist/composer Ives, joined by MYSfits string musicians Catherine Hartrim-Lowe, Naomi Margolis and Merle Hayes from the Metropolitan Youth Symphony–with whom FNM is making a degree to collaborate.


The throughline descended from current to previous, ending the live performance–or starting the string of affect–with Clara Wieck-Schumann. In between had been items by Schnittke, Ukrainian-born Victoria Polevá, Gustav Mahler and Johannes Brahms, subtly revealing the influences these composers had on each other.

As for the meaty center of the live performance—and I gained’t choose on Schnittke anymore—Polevá’s Simurgh-quintett, written in 2000, was an instance of sacred minimalism, impressed partially by Schnittke. This piece had its discordant moments, however the gradual liturgical tone, often disrupted by strident conversations among the many strings and piano, completely match the Previous Church and the live performance’s tone. I’ve by no means heard something fairly prefer it—prayerful, mysterious, mystical, despairing—maybe a chunk to accompany grief. It skirted monotony and left you wanting extra. Absolutely the composition and the sacred minimalism motion or “style” exerted some sway on Campbell’s reverential Cloud Valley. Let’s hope to listen to extra from Polevá, who lives in Switzerland and is best identified in Europe than right here.

Brahms’ 5 Songs, op.46, showcased Vakarė Petroliūnaitė’s robust, clear soprano as she sang some acquainted items, comparable to Brahms “Lullaby” and “To a Violet.” Every was not more than 3 minutes, and FNM piano accompanist Payne saved the tempo exacting but fluid. Petroliūnaitė has sung one different time with FNM, and he or she gave the impression to be at house. The viewers welcomed the shift from strings to voice.

And eventually, there was the Wieck-Schumann, the primary second of the night.

Wieck-Schumann, too typically referred to as Robert Schumann’s spouse, was the primary famous piano performer to pioneer the apply of performing music by reminiscence. She’s additionally a composer whose work is beginning to garner extra important consideration. Her 1853 piece, Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann, op. 20, was sensitively and mellifluously dropped at life by uber-talented pianist Ohuchi, who talked about in James Bash’s Nov. 22 Oregon Arts Watch story that Schumann’s arms had been larger than hers–in order that her execution required a stretch on the Steinway grand. She overcame the impediment gracefully, taking part in rolled chords to compensate, trying and sounding as if she had been performing by reminiscence, the music in her bones. Written to honor Wieck-Schumann’s beloved husband–Romantic music large Robert Schumann, who was severely ailing–the 15-minute piece concluded the live performance to enthusiastic applause, letting us overlook about Schnittke, and even Wieck-Schumann’s alleged canoodling with Brahms. Ohuchi, by the best way, toughed out performing a Chamber Music Northwest live performance this summer time on the Alberta Rose Theatre with a sprained ankle. As with Wieck-Schumann, it will be a mistake to underestimate these two pianists.

This totally Western-music live performance was an schooling in influences, but actually, not as intriguing as 31-year-old FNM’s “Asian Resilience and Pleasure” Could efficiency that explored three generations of seven composers with roots in varied components of Asia. That’s not as a result of the Nov. 30 program traced Western music—or included Schnittke!— it was merely one reviewer’s choice.

And irrespective of which my choice, FNM “sells” tickets on a donation foundation. Give what you’ll be able to … a beneficiant manner for achieved musicians to place new, and infrequently outdated, works out into the world.

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