Music of Mohammed Fairouz at Bargemusic ~ A Review

Jeffrey Zeigler soundchecking at Bargemusic (Photo courtesy of Mohammed Fairouz)jeffreyzeigler

Bargemusic Here and Now Series: Mohammed Fairouz
Featuring Rachel Barton Pine, violin
Lara Downes, piano
Jeffrey Zeigler, cello
Catalyst Quartet
Karen Kevra, flute
Fulton Ferry Landing, NY
Friday, September 20th, 2013

Bargemusic at first felt a bit too small for this particular program of Mohammed Fairouz’s music and its worldly feel, but having the grand view of the harbor and the boats outside the big window made me rethink that notion.

The evening’s program, consisting mostly of New York premieres, was a very compelling set of music for a first-timer hearing the works of Mr. Fairouz in one setting.

It was a delight to hear Lara Downes’ performance of the Piano Miniatures in their entirety (The collection’s 6th piece titled “Addio” can be heard as the closer on Downes’ Exiles Cafe CD). Fairouz’s piano writing, mostly leaning towards romantic in style, is very passionate and thoughtful, with seemingly many variants on the types of pianistic moods of the old school, and the pieces served as a great starter for Fairouz’s program.

Jeffrey Zeigler’s performance of Al-Sham definitely ushered in the night’s first taste of Eastern music–Mohammed explained at one point during one of the introductions that the music he writes for instruments other than the piano is easier to write this style for since the piano notes can’t be bended. Zeigler very effectively allowed the cello to be the vocal aspect of the pain described by Fairouz’s piece, particularly in the movement “May 25th, 2012”, about the Houla massacre during the Syrian civil war, in which many women and children were murdered.

After an intermission, we were treated to the NY debut of Native Informant, a suite for unaccompanied violin commissioned by its soloist, Rachel Barton Pine. Featured on the CD of the same name that came out earlier this year, it was a delight to hear live, and to see such a powerful, resilient performer like Rachel have this work as one of her signatures.

The Catalyst Quartet, who sounded amazing just warming up during the intermission, gave us the last 2 selections on the evening’s program–“Choral Fantasy”, and a suite titled A World I Loved, featuring guest flutist Karen Kevra. Both Kevra and the quartet were new to me, but they certainly rose to the occasion and rendered the significance of the piece.

With thanks to both the temperament of the tide and the evening’s music (and its composer), the night rocked heavily. I look forward to more works from Mohammed Fairouz.


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