Duo Enharmonics and Ensemble Gȏ
Music of our time
Monique Lapins, violin, Beth Chen and Nicole Chao, piano, Naoto Segawa, percussion
St. Andrews on the Terrace, Wellington
Wednesday, 20th April 2022
This was a varied concert of mainly short works by contemporary composers, two New Zealanders, Ross Harris and John Psathas, one Turkish, Fazil Say, and two American, Paul Schoenfeld and Glenn Stallcop. They are hardly household names, but this short concert of about 60 minutes gave us a glimpse of what composers of the present time are writing, although each of the five pieces on the programme were quite different.
String and Wood (Ross Harris)
Monique Lapins and Naoto Segawa
This short work for Marimba and Violin reminder me of Gamelan music, once popular at the NZ School of Music. The violin was plucked echoing the marimba. It was a duet of the melodic violin used mainly with plucking like a percussive instrument and the rich vibrant gong like sound of the marimba
Five days of the life of a manic-depressive’ (Paul Schoenfeld)
Nicole Chao and Beth Chen
Paul Schoenfeld is an American composer known for combining popular, folk, and classical musical forms. ‘From Bintel Brief‘ and ‘Boogie‘ are the last two movements of a group of short pieces for Piano Duet. From Bintel Brief‘ has echoes of Jewish melodies, but in particular, the feel of popular Broadway musicals. Boogie‘ is a very energetic work endeavoring to capture the youthful frenzy of popular swing or rock dance. Nicole Chao and Beth Chen threw their all into this fiery work.
Sonata No. 1 (Fazil Say)
Monique Lapins and Beth Chen
Fazil Say is a Turkish pianist and composer. This sonata for violin and piano was the major work of the programme. It is in five short movements, with the first movement, ‘Melancholy’ repeated as the final movement. It is an approachable work, but it has its challenges for the performers, the manic second movement, ‘Grotesque’ and the fiercely fast ‘Perpetuum, mobile’ of the third movement. It gave Monique Lapins a chance to shine and show what a fine, sensitive violinist she is.
Matre’s Dance (John Psathas)
Naoto Segawa and Nicole Chan
Maitre’s Dance is a dance performed by a group of fanatics in Frank Hebert’s science fiction classic, Dune. John Psathas’ piece depicting this dance, became part of the standard repertoire of concerts by percussionists. It is a conversation, or perhaps more appropriately, a duel between piano and a range of percussion instruments, in this performance only a modest range of drums with no tympani. It is entirely based on strong rhythms, though occasionally something resembling a melody was trying to emerge from the keyboard. It is a virtuoso piece for percussionist and pianist alike. It is not for the fainthearted traditionalist, but it is an interesting challenge for those who are prepared to explore new varieties of sounds.
Tarantella from Midsummer Night (Glenn Stallcop)
Monique Lapins, Naoto Segawa Nicole Chao and Beth Chen
For the final item of the concert we had the whole complement of instruments on stage, violin, marimba, piano with two pianists. Glenn Stallcop is an American composer. The Tarantella is the third movement of a three movement work. It is a colorful piece with an interesting array of sounds, the gypsy sound of the violin, the bell like resonant timbre of the marimba, all underpinned by the strong rhythmic piano part.
This was an important concert, adding a new dimension to the Wellington concert experience introducing unfamiliar compositions and composers. The performance was absolutely convincing, the pieces were superbly played. A great credit to all the four performers who put so much effort into presenting this colorful variety pieces. A larger than usual audience showed their appreciation.