Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 8:01 AM ET, 12/ 6/2010

In performance: 21st Century Consort

By Stephen Brookes

In Monday's Washington Post: The 21st Century Consort's "Unruly Landscapes," by Stephen Brookes (scroll down for review).

Maybe it’s not too surprising that we’re fascinated by water -- we’re mostly made up of the stuff, after all -- and composers in particular have always been drawn to it. Perhaps that’s because water is so much like music itself: constantly in motion, with profound depths and astounding power under a surface of infinite variety. Whatever the reason, water is still inspiring some of the most interesting music of our time, as the 21st Century Consort demonstrated in a remarkable concert at the American Art Museum on Saturday titled, “Unruly Landscapes.”

Loosely linked to “The Pond,” an ongoing exhibit of photographs by John Gossage, the program opened with “The Stream Flows” for solo violin, by the Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng. It was likeable enough, if traditional Chinese melodies tarted up in a modern idiom float your boat. Much more satisfying was David Froom’s Piano Trio No. 2 “Grenzen” -- a piece so full of life it almost bursts out of its skin – which received a spectacularly energetic and focused performance from Elisabeth Adkins on violin, Rachel Young on cello, and Lisa Emenheiser at the piano.

Emenheiser is so little that you half expect her to be blown away by the first strong breeze, but in fact she brought volcanic power to Alan Mandel’s “Steps to Mt Olympus,” whose title sums up its outsized gestures and almost Romantic thundering. Far more involving was Emenheiser’s reading of “Thoreau,” the last movement of Charles Ives’s “Concord” sonata. Not every pianist can make genuine sense of this confounding work, but Emenheiser infused it with delicate, ephemeral poetry; even Ives would have been impressed.

The real high points of the evening, though, were two gorgeous works by the West Coast composer Donald Crockett. There’s a great naturalness and effortlessness in Crockett’s writing, and “to be sung on the water” – a hymn-like duet performed by violinist Adkins, with Abigail Evans on viola – had a kind of distant, otherworldly glow, like nymphs singing from some underwater realm. His horn quintet “La Barca” (with Laurel Ohlson on horn) was far closer to the surface, but no less beautiful – a work of relentless inventiveness from a composer we really should hear more of.

--Stephen Brookes

By Stephen Brookes  | December 6, 2010; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Washington, local reviews  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In performance: Turtle Island Quartet at 25
Next: The Grammy nobody knows

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company