It’s hard to count the requests I get for reviews of recent Memorial Hall performances, so here are short reviews of the recent ones.
Mark Morris Dance Group
Modern dance, at a level even an unsophisticate could understand. Several pieces using lots of dancers with musical interpretation themes.
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra
Russian National Orchestra with Yefim Bronfman
Yefim Bronfman was the pianist and only played for the first set. He and the orchestra seemed to playing at a very high level with lots of very fast, complicated sequences. The musicians in the crowd were very impressed.
Vijay Oyer, Michael C. Ladd and Ibrahim Quraishi
One of those experimental performance art kind of works. Fortunately, they provided lyric sheets in the program and I had time to read some of it before hand, so I had some idea of what was going on. I took it as very interesting presentations of 8 – 10 poems about news events, from the Hindenburg Disaster to Jon Stewart on Crossfire, but mostly about war. I liked most of it, but some parts were too harsh, such as shrieky music, flashing bright lights, and a five minute rant in Japanese.
The stage was interesting. Lowered stage lights served as a suspended stage with live musicians underneath on the real stage.
Brentano String Quartet with Mary Nessinger
Lots of plucking and otherwise atonal sounds made this too harsh for me to even stay after intermission. The program says it best: “as pure a musical portrait of dread and anxiety as one is apt to encounter.” At the next performance we overheard someone who wished they had left after intermission.
Academy of Ancient Music
This British orchestra playing Mozart was a welcome change from the string quartet. Most of the pieces had a single lead violinist playing against the rest of the orchestra, which I found more interesting than the usual synchronized violins. My only complaint was that they were too casually dressed, with outfits only loosely matching.