2013 : Brian Olewnick

2013 : Brian Olewnick

2013 : Brian Olewnick

Publicerad: mån, 2013-12-16 13:21

Having moved to Paris in February, I necessarily had entirely different musical experiences than those I’d been used to in my 37 years in or around New York City. What stand out in memory are several live events I was fortunately able to attend.

Prior to leaving the States, two extraordinary nights with Keith Rowe in duos with Michael Pisaro, Christian Wolff and Graham Lambkin, each offering their own choice rewards. Hearing Pisaro in an improvisatory context, with a challenging partner, very compelling as he held his calm ground. Wolff and Rowe are always complex, arcane and fascinating; you get the sense they’ve long since developed an internal language that you can’t quite understand but can glimpse its underlying logic. Most serendipitously, both Rowe and Lambkin, entirely independent of each other, arrived at their set without “musical” instruments, instead opting to bring drawing and other visual art materials, which they then contact mic’d and spent an hour or so creating artwork, the sounds of which were relayed to the audience. A couple of days later, they would record the similarly structured “Making A” in Graham’s Poughkeepsie kitchen.

In April, I heard John Tilbury perform Beckett’s “Worstward Ho” in Bretigny, just south of Paris. Due largely to his refusal to enter the US since the Iraq conflict, I hadn’t seen him in person for about ten years during which time he’d had a mild stroke. But he played as beautifully, as profoundly as I’d ever heard, every note and noise perfectly positioned, exactly defined. Absolutely spellbinding.

In May, at Fondation Suisse, a performance of Pisaro’s “Chords, Partially Obscured” by the Dedalus Ensemble was transporting. These were my impressions at the time: “Before the concert began, there were four Asian students playing frisbee outside the large window. They were asked to move their doings by one of the show organizers, a decision I thought was unfortunate given the likely nature of, at least, the Pisaro work, memories of the guy with the ladder at St. Mark's Church in the Village still in my head. I was greatly heartened therefore when, prior to his piece, [Thierry] Madiot got up and slid open the doorway, allowing the exterior sound world entry. The composition was "chords, partially obscured" (2008), originally scored for clarinet, harmonica, electric guitar, violin and cello (plus electronics), adapted to the instrumentation at hand. As if on cue, just as the quintet was about to begin, an airplane engine's lovely sound filled the sky. The work was incredibly beautiful; the cello played a soft, continuous line while the others played a handful of five or six second single notes, deliciously harmonized, very much like the most wonderfully sonorous breathing you ever heard, at least a couple of times very subtly augmented by electronics, possibly a field recording (maybe more often than I realized). They would play three or four such phrases, then sit silently for 15-20 seconds. Outside, the environment cooperated as perfectly as one could hope. Off to the left, about 30 feet out of view, a ping-pong game was occurring, the delicate "pok" of the balls intermingled with triumphant or disappointed cries. The traffic on the other side of the dorm buildings hummed. One bird warbled richly, a cawing crow chasing it away. People walked by, peered in, made barely audible comments. The music accepted it all, breathed calmly, registered its own thoughts”.

Most recently, and most devastatingly, was the performance of Eliane Radigue’s “Naldjorlak I, II and III” with Charles Curtis on cello and Carol Robinson and Bruno Martinez on basset horns. This was one of those occasions where everything worked, including my being seated about six feet in front of the musicians so as to catch every tiny grain and modulation. I’d never had such an opportunity with Radigue’s music before and the sense of infinitely unfolding, ever-widening vistas was overwhelming and intensely immersive. It’s tinged everything I’ve listened to since.

Brian Olewnick

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