News > Spoleto 2016 Review: Ein Kinderspiel and Spoletudes

By: Matt Dobie

For anyone who may think there is a lack of experimentation and forward thinking in contemporary music, this was the show to put all those concerns to rest. Part of the Spoleto Music In Time series, it was definitely not for a mainstream audience. But if you came equipped with an open mind and hunger for something utterly unique, it was a transcendent musical experience.

The show was comprised of three pieces. The first was Verpflichtet II composed by Gleb Kanasevich. Every instrument in the chamber orchestra was played in an unorthodox fashion: the bass and cello often bowed or plucked below the bridge, brass instruments softly blown into producing a muffled, wet timbre, the bows on the violins scraping over the strings in a high drone. It may all sound random but it’s meticulously composed and conducted. Brilliant and indefinable, it may perhaps be best experienced with your eyes closed, without visual cues to warn you of an upcoming shift in the music, allowing your mind to wander through the bizarre soundscape, experiencing it clean without expectations.
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The second piece was Ein Kinderspiel composed by Helmut Lachenmann, another composer who uses standard orchestral instruments in unconventional ways. The music forced pianist Renate Rohlfing’s hands into contortions, strangely arched and layered on top of each other creating giant, complex chords and strange syncopations.
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Traveling through the seven distinct movements, it was yet another piece that stimulated the imagination, evoking visuals and unknown emotions.

The last composition, entitled Spoletudes by John Kennedy, employed complicated rhythms, even asking members of the quartet to simultaneously play in different tempos. The result is a maddening array of notes that wonderfully finds its way to cohesion. Augment that with the unique instrumentation of a dizi (a Chinese flute), a bass clarinet, a cello, and a percussionist and you’ve got another distinctive gem. There are moments of perceptible melody in this piece, however strange they are, and the final movement builds to a powerful, exhilarating interplay between the musicians that concluded and left me wanting more.

As a whole, this music moved me unlike almost anything I’ve experienced, without preconceived notions or an obvious path. My thoughts, my memories, my wisdom, they were the directors of how this music affected me. And bravo to the composers for their unflinching desire to create something unique, something to propel the music world forward into a audible landscape we’ve yet to explore.

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Posted on June 5, 2016 by admin.

Categories: Performing Arts, Review

Tags: Ein Kinderspiel, Gleb Kanasevich, Helmut Lachenmann, John Kennedy, Music In Time, Renate Rohlfing, Spoletudes, Verpflichtet II

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