Nodes Performing Arts
Vaudeville Park, Brooklyn, NY
Sunday, September 16th, 2012
Written by Sharon Mizrahi
© 2012 Sharon Mizrahi
Plastic tea cups stood alongside finger sandwiches, abstract paintings dotted the walls, and two small chandeliers graced the ceiling. The uncanny vibe at Vaudeville Park was enough to captivate the senses – but once the Janus Trio filled the space with their graceful style, the atmosphere at last made sense. Over the course of nearly two hours, the group explored the crossroads between traditionalism and innovation, illustrating the beauty of strident elegance.
The evening’s program featured an eclectic interpretation of Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola, and harp, punctuated by several newly-composed world premieres. Throughout the set, the trio shone not only in depth and complexity of sound, but, most poignantly, in astute textural interplay. Amanda Baker and Beth Meyers emerged as a dynamic pair, the former musician’s airy flute providing a stark contrast to Meyers’ strong-willed viola. The two artists sparked a vivid musical conversation in Conrad Winslow’s “Pervasive Gossip”, a darkly witty reflection on the power of rumors. Baker alternated between flute and piccolo, jarring the ears with pitchy chirps. A call-and-response brought Winslow’s narrative to full-fledged life, as Meyers replied with somber streams of violin.
But perched between Baker and Meyers was the true harmonizing force of the trio: Nuiko Wadden. The harpist laced Debussy’s interlude with a meditative spice, simultaneously reaching immense depth and divine weightlessness. Wadden guided the piece along its fluid path, manipulating silence and sound through every evocative pluck. As Baker and Meyers flew ahead, Wadden soothed the stirring trails, ebbing and flowing like aural water.
Danielle Eva Schwob’s “Breathing Underwater”, however, marked the trio’s most powerful apex. The piece indeed has intriguing roots; Schwob’s inspiration primarily stemmed from her move to New York and the anxieties that sprouted along the way. A subsequent trip to Beijing further motivated the enigmatic work, as Schwob found serenity while exploring China’s ponds and gardens. Baker, Meyers, and Wadden carried Schwob’s journey into the musical realm, crafting a visceral soundscape equal parts delicate and assertive. And every lilting ribbon of flute, violin, and harp hearkened back to the Janus Trio’s remarkable union of past and present, resonating with the spirit of wonderment and creative exploration.
Sharon Mizrahi created and writes for The Lindy Hopper NYC.