|Read a selection of reviews from this fall's premieres and performances! |
"...to complete the evening, the duo proposed Peter Lieberson’s Remembering Schumann, a compact, 17-minute essay fusing a contemporary sensibility with a Romantic spirit to utterly alluring ends. What Lieberson reveres about his predecessor – both the moments of unabashed passion and the impulsive, almost manic shifts of mood and material – are given utterance here. A martial rhythm will suddenly interrupt a cello reverie. A rhapsodic line meanders to the point of disintegration.
One of Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes serves as inspiration for his successor, who has arranged the piece as three sets of variations. But this is as much creation as homage, and will probably survive in the chamber literature long after the bicentennial has passed. "
—The Financial Times, 01/28/10
Gabriela Lena Frank
Tres Mitos de Mi Tierra
"There wasn’t any doubt which piece on their San Francisco Performances program that the King’s Singers had really come to Herbst Theatre to perform on Wednesday. It was the premiere of Tres Mitos de Mi Tierra (Three Myths of My Land), by Berkeley-native composer Gabriela Lena Frank.
Most works for a small group of unaccompanied solo singers are fairly short little pieces. By these customary standards, Frank has composed the Ring Cycle of the genre. Each of the three movements is a large, complex composition of half a dozen long, elaborate verses by itself. Put them all together, and it’s 20 minutes straight, seeming longer because of how much content is packed in there, for all six singers — two countertenors, one tenor, two baritones, and a bass — with hardly a break for any, and not a sip of water or a throat-clearing in sight.
This would have been amazing enough, had Frank written merely a minimalist om. She is not that kind of composer. Even the slower central song is thoroughly busy, written with awesome detail and a thorough attention to her text. The precision of the singers’ enunciation was vital here. Lyrics and music were inspired by the South American Andean portion of Frank’s multicultural ancestry. Her text, though in English, has many Spanish words and phrases inserted, and is all written, she tells us, with “the rhythms and cadences of Spanish.”
The infusion is complete. Throughout the third song, the elaborate courting call of a man to a bewitching woman, the text is counterpointed with the word “Hechicera” (sorceress), both the title of the song and the word he uses to describe her at the beginning. The text and the repeated word intertwine in the parts, forming an elaborate multilayered conversation. The first song, “Travel Song,” is built similarly, with entrances cascading over each other, parallel word phrasing in successive lines reflected in repeated musical phrasing, and the voices suddenly coming together into a single line at critical points."
—The San Francisco Classical Voice 02/17/10
Mirrors (Piano Concerto No. 4)
"Danielpour’s Mirrors is an entertaining work, and I don’t think the composer would mind my saying so. A piano concerto in five short movements, 22 minutes long, it meets the audience more than half way. The movements are given titles – The Trickster, The Witness, The Gambler, The Poet, The Warrior. These are 'personality archetypes,' the composer says, aspects of each of our personalities, and Mirrors is a suite of character pieces, painting those traits in musical terms.
Danielpour, 54, is a prolific composer, and formerly composer-in-residence with this orchestra. This newest piece is fluently written, witty in spots, and the solo pianist (Jeffrey Biegel) has plenty of flattering music, both poetic and virtuosic, to play. The Trickster is almost a bit of vaudeville, the pianist kicking up his heels with a fluffy show tune, the rhythmic syncopations faster than the eye, the back and forth between soloist and orchestra like the give and take of a couple of comedians.
The Gambler is somewhat similar, but here the syncopations are more in the raucous Bernstein mode, the rhythms jazzy, the pianist zipping through fistfuls of notes as if he were dealing a loaded deck of cards. The Witness evokes an Ivesian mode, slow and mysterious, still and watching, as if things are happening in slow motion. The Poet comes off like American Rachmaninoff, frankly sweet, nostalgic, Romantic and melodic. The Warrior brings it all home with a driving, stomping, Prokofiev-like movement.
—The Orange County Register 02/26/10