When Words Fade CD release party
Anderson & Roe
May 22, 2012
Galapagos Art Space
Music With a View 2012
Bonjour featuring Florent Ghys and Ashley Bathgate
Joo Won Park
May 26, 2012
The Flea Theater
A very active week for me, which is unheard of these days, but I guess I need to catch up with myself.
I have to say that the two nights in question couldn’t be more different in content from one another, but both were equally fulfilling for me as far as musicianship (especially when musicians work together) and passion. Anderson & Roe offered mostly traditional classics but with a very edgy performance and a fresh new presentation in a club setting replacing a concert hall, whereas the 2nd show was one of a yearly series titled Music With a View (curated by the great pianist Kathleen Supove) and offered brand new works by living composer/performers with great elements of deep melody flanked by experimentalism.
The first evening was the CD release party for a CD that actually came out back in November of 2011, but by the time Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe came out and began pumping the opening strains of their own arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, it no longer mattered, and to be honest, it no longer mattered to me that this was a pop song–it was still a great sound that their duality on the piano created, and this really seemed to transcend crossover trappings. The entire program had them taking turns between pieces speaking to the audience and relaying an energy and attitude that is never really allowed in the concert hall.
A&R also performed Stravinsky’s piano 4-hands version of Le sacre du printemps (Sadly, only the 1st half, but an exciting reading that got the biggest applause of the night) and many original arrangements of pieces as well as songs like Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” (Many have been doing this particularly with Radiohead a lot lately for some reason–Guess Thom Yorke’s music has a composer’s soul in it).
I guess the best way to describe Anderson & Roe in concert is that they are like the splashiness of Liberace sans the fountains, and yet retain true musicality. They are already powerful pianists that become super-charged in each other’s presence, and proceed to give very thoughtful and colorful music with a passion that separates them from populists.
The Music With a View concert (which was the 11th of 12 in a series of concerts) was at the arts space in Tribeca known as The Flea Theater, and this was a show in 3 parts without an intermission, starting with composer/performer Fay Wang and a small ensemble of 7 performing the first chapter of her cycle Pisces Monodrama. The ensemble, conducted by Samuel Carl Adams and featuring many soloists including Ashley Bathgate on cello (one of two cellists) and Nicole Camacho on flute, accompanied Fay Wang, whose vocals at times invoked Björk. The ensemble with Wang seemed to give more of an indie vibe than anything compositional, but it set a strident pace for the rest of the show.
Composer/double bassist Florent Ghys’ new quartet named Bonjour also featured Bathgate on cello, as well as Eleonore Oppenheim on 2nd double bass and Dither’s James Moore on resonator guitar, which seemed to offer a folk element. This was my favorite set of the night–They proceeded to play several pieces that had many great call and response sections between the two bassists or one of the bassists and the cello, or all three. It seems somewhat obvious to me that Florent Ghys probably listens to lots of jazz!
Plucking seemed to be all over the pieces, and all the players responded well to one another so sweetly. Bathgate is such a lively, driving performer, and as she allows herself to smile as she plays, I have to say this is such an engaging thing to see a performer do.
Electro-acoustic performer Joo Won Park (easily the most avant-garde of the performances) was last on the program with a succession of pieces live, 1/2 recorded and 1/2 live, and recorded-only nature. His use of laptop electronics on the piece “Toccata” was quite chilling as he played a manic recorder solo into the effects making it even more demonic. Throwing objects onto the laptop seemed a bit kitchen-sink-esque, but he managed go from the cacophonous to the ambient using projection to show changing skylines synced-up with sounds of cicadas (during “Fireflies and Cicadas”) segueing into a lighter section of the pieces, then halted by clicking, incessant metronomes and egg-timers going into the final piece “Introvert”.
We need kitchen-sink-esque-ism every now and then, I guess!