Monday, February 08, 2010

Midori Performs Music of Her Time

Midori Performs Music of Her Time
Midori, violin
Charles Abramovic, piano
Saturday, February 6, 8pm
Herbst Theatre

Huw Watkins: Coruscation and Reflection
Kryzsztof Penderecki: Violin Sonata No. 2
Toshio Hosokawa: Vertical Time Study III
James Macmillan: After the Tryst
Adams: Road Movies

To me Midori is a performer with exceptional powers of communication. Through a lot of hard work, she made this program of contemporary music as accessible as any evening of standard works. Midori executed the many abrupt shifts in Huw Watkins's Coruscation with startling efficiency. The companion piece Reflections had her playing perilously high on the E string, the sound strong & loud yet not strained. I enjoyed the often mordant outer movements of the Penderecki Sonata for Violin & Piano, especially when Midori demonstrated that she can be as expressive with pizzicato as when she uses a bow. She sustained a mood of even calm in the drawn-out central slow movement. Pianist Charles Abramovic plays crisply & cleanly & is a very supportive accompanist. His playing, & even his appearance, remind me of Robert McDonald, Midori's previous collaborator.

When the pair returned after intermission, there was an electronic hum in the hall, & we had a delay as Mr. Abramovic left the stage to get assistance. Toshio Hosokawa's Vertical Time Study III is a set of 3 fragmentary pieces exploring various timbres. Midori sometimes let the bow slide over the fingerboard, & I was left wondering whether or not I was still hearing the violin sound. The piece left me with a sickening feeling. James Macmillan's After the Tryst was a complete contrast. It's an achingly beautiful pastoral show piece, only a few minutes long. Midori started with the fastest trill I have ever heard, & she made the piece sing in one long, unbroken line. It really did make me think of a field of flowers in bloom & was a highlight of my evening.

Without leaving the stage, the pair launched into the frenetic opening movement of John Adams's Road Movies. It's a wonderfully pictorial piece, & the audience applauded spontaneously after the vigorous & focused performance of the 1st movement. A lot of fun was had in the final 40% Swing movement, with the violin & piano jauntily sliding in & out of sync. John Adams was in the house & came on stage to take a bow with the performers at the end. We recalled Midori & Mr. Abramovic to the stage at least 4 times & continued clapping even when the house lights came up, but we were offered no encore. It is hard to know what could cap this, though.

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