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In Performance: Verge Ensemble

Note: due to some glitches in publishing software earlier this week, this review of last weekend's concert did not appear after I hit "publish." Herewith, it runs again.

Impressive Verge offers video and surgical tools in music's service by Alfred Thigpen

Virtuosic. That sums up VERGE ensemble's Sunday performance at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. When musicians perform at the level of pianist Jenny Lin and company, tackling seemingly unreadable compositions and rendering them possible, virtuosity rivals cutting edge, VERGE's raison d'être.
(read more after the jump)

Only in our dreams (or nightmares) might we otherwise hear tools of ancient surgery perform in duet with flute as in David Whiteside's chilling realization of Timothy Beyer's "Amputate 2." On the opposite side of the thematic spectrum was the hoedown quality of Lou Harrison's "Polka" played with élan by violinist Lina Bahn and Lin. Somewhere solidly in between was the world premiere of Wayne Peterson's rhythmically demanding "Scherzo," performed by Whiteside, Bahn, clarinetist David Jones and cellist Ignacio Alcover. These instruments form no one's standard quartet, but classic chamber dialogue was immediately established as though the voices had deftly agreed upon a plan while debating its implementation.

From Jeffrey Mumford's shocking opening trio to Peterson's closer, all the works begged for the medium of modern dance, with the exception of the Washington premiere of "Outer Edge of Possibility," a video/music collaboration by Sylvia Pengilly and Michael Rhoades. Technologically virtuosic, "Outer Edge" was a flowing paradox of fractals, the body electronic and all attendant sounds, disturbing or otherwise.

Under the artistic direction of Steve Antosca, VERGE ensemble's next performance is April 25, also at the Corcoran. Where else can you hear the late Luigi Nono re-mastered for a living secondo or John King's duet for piano and half a pair of dice?

-- Alfred Thigpen

By Anne Midgette  |  January 14, 2010; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  local reviews  
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