150 West 85th Street
New York, NY 10024
Subway: 1, 2 to 86th Street; A, B, C to 86th Street-Central Park West
From the Exotic to the Surreal
Tue, Oct 04, 2011, 8:00 pm - 11:59 pm
Free admission (all visitors, all hours)
The Talea Ensemble, one of the Emerging Voices of 2011 highlighted by the Alliance for the Arts, performs two works at Mannes College in a free concert that demonstrates the exotic to the surreal in modern compositions.
Georges Aperghis: Triangle Carré (1989)
Pierre Boulez: Le marteau sans maître (1955)
Miranda Cuckson, violin
Sarah Crocker, violin
Elizabeth Weisser, viola
Chris Gross, cello
Barry Crawford, flute
Oren Fader, guitar
Bo Chang, mezzo-soprano
Daniel Druckman, percussion
Matthew Gold, percussion
Alex Lipowski, percussion
Matthew Ward, percussion
James Baker, conductor
Pierre Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître (The Hammer Without a Master, 1955) is the work that established the composer’s reputation as a leading figure of the European postwar avant-garde. On the one hand, it is a paradigm of the structuralist approach to formal and harmonic construction that was indicative of its time: vigorous control and manipulation of materials and a hybrid application of the theoretical ideas about harmony and rhythm of the Second Viennese School and Boulez’s teacher, Olivier Messiaen, an approach that is historically defined as total serialism.
At the same time, the music is otherworldly in its timbral beauty (with textural references to indigenous musics of Africa, Bali, and Japan, and even modern jazz) and unapologetically exotic. René Char’s surrealist poetry, like that of Mallarmé’s that Boulez went on to set in future years, serves as the bridge between the worlds of Boulez’s arcane, severe harmonic vocabulary and the cool sensuality of his instrumental writing.
Georges Aperghis’ Triangle Carré (1989), written three decades later, takes an entirely different approach to exoticism. Scored for string quartet and percussion trio, Aperghis is interested in the friction and drama resulting from the interplay of these very different instrumental groups, one the emblem of a glorious tradition, the other the enabler of others outside of it.
The percussionists mostly play instruments associated with multiple folk traditions from around the world. Whereas Boulez’s exoticism never rises above suggestion, Aperghis revels in the meanings of very overt cultural references and their constant reinvention, often in very theatrical ways. The friction of culture and timbre are primary areas of exploration, as the composer explains, "even if I was wasting my time, I wanted to hear this friction, not just a pretty piece of chamber music."
-Anthony Cheung, artistic director of Talea Ensemble