Cornelius Dufallo: Rocking the already rocking barge (Photo courtesy of Nana Deleplanque)
This show was the fourth of a series of concerts titled Journaling, one of which was performed on this same barge last year by Cornelius “Neil” Dufallo. This was my first time ever on a barge that features concerts.
Something about the motion made me feel weird, like I had this feeling I’d be seasick during the show, but I definitely got better as the evening wore on. Prerecorded ambient strains created by Dufallo must have helped ease the strain of the rocky barge. Once Neil took the stage to perform his set, it was time to throw caution to the wind and chill, and as dusk approached, the effect of the New York skyline outside the window behind the stage absolutely added an ambiance that likely makes any programmed music romantic.
The first piece titled Introduction was one of two pieces written by him on this program, and it was a perfect opening displaying his technical style drenched in reverb and delay in the first part and kicking into a rhythmic frenzy in the second part.
Paul Brantley‘s violin d’Ingres was one of two pieces played acoustic on this program (For the show, Dufallo used two violins, one with a pickup plugged into the looping station, and another one unattached with no pickup), and proceeded to be sort of an atonal-romantic-bluegrass enigma of piece, heavily arpeggiated and aggressive. It was also one of three pieces having their world premieres at this show.
How Many Will It Take? was another premiere and a much darker piece, written by Kinan Azmeh very recently in Syria, depicting the violence of the state of the country. Looped plucking and an Eastern-style melody with a bass provided the motif for the musical interpretation of this story.
After performing his own Violin Loops I from his forthcoming Journaling CD, Dufallo then premiered Tim Hodgkinson‘s microtonal acoustic piece Landscape Theory of Mind for Violin Solo. Utilizing the stick side of the bow for the first part, Dufallo provided another dark and dynamic performance, and even plucked the violin sans bow like a mandolin for what seemed like a whole section of the piece before bringing it to a fever pitch with furious spiccato at its conclusion.
Bassist-composer Patrick Derivaz joined Cornelius onstage for a fabulous duet (and the only one on a program of all solo pieces) on his composition Glissades, where Dufallo used more stick-bowing. The piece was originally created for their collaborative album Bass Violin.
I think the best thing I can say about Cornelius Dufallo is that he uses effects in such a way that it is not a distraction from such a beautiful instrument–Not that I ever thought he would allow that, and looping is a bit more common now in new music, but normally its presence is so heavily threaded in the framework that you could never imagine new music for violin without it.
The recorded effect of real dialogue from death-row criminals used throughout on Jacob TV‘s GRAB IT made it an explicitly hardcore tour-de-force as Dufallo used a click-track (for his ears only) to match the complex rhythms of the sharply punctuated voice samples, and though the piece seemed to be in several lengthy sections that made it feel a bit nightmarish, its complexity made for compelling listening. The pause before the piece crashed back in again for its last phrase made you think you were going to hear a whole other fearful section.
The show concluded with Svjetlana Bukvich‘s Before & After The Tekke, where a dark romantic sound seems to be where the piece is coming from. Inspired by a book about a Bosnian dervish monastery, the piece brings the world of Bosnian Christian Orthodox idioms together with the sounds of urban New York as hip-hop elements are ushered in at the piece’s second half.