A recent New York performance from Mario Diaz de León is reviewed:
Part of the anticipation had to do with the performers on hand. The International Contemporary Ensemble, a flexible organization based in Brooklyn and Chicago, reliably attracts large, enthusiastic audiences with its wide-ranging programs and brilliant execution. Here, four members of the group — Claire Chase and Eric Lamb, on alto flutes; Joshua Rubin, a clarinetist; and Nathan Davis, a percussionist — worked alongside players from the Talea Ensemble, a four-year-old new-music group directed by Alex Lipowski, a percussionist, and Anthony Cheung, a pianist.
That an emerging composer had secured the attention of two prominent groups was itself cause for curiosity. Mr. de León, born in St. Paul in 1979, played in hard-core punk bands during the ’90s. When he started to write chamber works for acoustic instruments and electronics in 2001, he combined unorthodox techniques developed by composers like Gyorgy Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis and Giacinto Scelsi with influences culled from free improvisation, noise and black metal.
BargeMusic, Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn 07/17/2009
Here and Now: American Contemporary Music Series:
Don Byron: Thoughts on Marvin Gaye
Iván Naranjo: Vibrating Soundless Hum (World Premiere)
David Lang: Wed
Alvin Lucier: Group Tapper (New York Premiere)
Katherine Young: Inside UFO 53-32 (World Premiere)
Giacinto Scelsi: String Quartet No. 2 (for String Quartet and Metallic Mutes)
Flux Quartet: Tom Chiu (Violin), Conrad Harris (Violin), Max Mandel (Viola), Felix Fan (Cello)
On a muggy, rain-sodden evening in Brooklyn, the Flux Quartet provided a program that seemed to be made for lazy reviewers. The titles, in fact, said it allWhat more do we need to know about Vibrating Soundless Hum. Or Alvin Lucier’s Group Tapper? That’s easy. Some musicians sit around and tap. Even the iconic composer Giacinto Scelsi made things graphic, his string quartet written for four players and “metallic mutes”. If they’re mute, why bother to even listen? When it came to David Lang’s Wed, it would obviously be cancelled, since the concert was on Fri.
But this isn’t the way the dynamic young Flux Quartet operates. The four players not only play, they compose, , they work with stars like Yo-yo Ma and Ornette Coleman, DJ Spooky, Meryl Streep and Tiny Tim, they improvise over radio scripts/ And this afternoon (Saturday), they will be playing music based on drawings submitted by an audience.
In other words, the Flux Quartet is the face of avant-garde music. And their program last night for a full house at BargeMusic was evidence of their fans.
Also, see the review in today’s New York Times.
Collin Thomas has some free MP3s of a recent improv performance at his site. Avant Garde on Film has a number of visual images put to the music of Scelsi. Gang of Tolstoy has some interesting works out in a “savant-garde” style. Calle Debauche has a new CD out of instrumental art rock similar in some ways to say…Samla Mammas Manna / Etron Fou / Zappa.