Last week I finally visited the Center for New Music, where I heard a performance in the SF Sound Salon Series. The venue is a narrow storefront with good acoustics, though noises from the street & the building's plumbing leak into the space. There were about 15 people in the audience, all of whom seemed to be friends of the performers. I felt I was sitting among elite auditors.
Violinist Benjamin Kreith & guitarist Travis Andrews began the evening with 2 duos that both picturesquely depict nighttime. Carlo Prosperi's In Nocte seemed to be about a restless night, & David del Puerto's Jardín bajo la luna (Garden in the Moonlight) had a definite Spanish flavor & was often effusively romantic. Mr. Kreith & Mr. Andrews were affable performers, & their musical intentions were always clear.
There was a slight delay while Mr. Kreith hunted down his misplaced music for Elliott Carter's Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi for solo violin. Mr. Kreith did a nice job making the piece's compressed, contrasting phrases sound fluent. Mr. Andrews used a travel guitar without a sound hole for Örjan Sandred's Cracks and Corrosion II, in order to minimize feedback from the piece's use of sound processing software. I liked a recurring effect that sounded like a bunch of bubbles rising up through water. The piece has an uncanny atmosphere, & Mr. Andrews played with exactitude.
After a break, clarinetist Matt Ingalls joined Mr. Kreith & Mr. Andrews for a short improvision. Mr. Andrews provided arpeggios underneath interjections from the other 2 players. The performers seemed amused when their improvisation came to a halt without warning.
To end the evening, Mr. Ingalls was The Terminator of the clarinet in a powerful 30 minute solo that utilized a range of unconventional techniques. He ricocheted notes around the space, played while swinging the instrument wildly, blew barely audible whistling noises, & kept up a tenacious circular breathing for most of the half-hour. In one astounding section he was an implacable clarinet-playing machine as he executed an impossibly rapid stream of notes, sounding like an electronic instrument & creating the illusion of 3 voices going at once. His peformance culminated in a sustained, piercing passage that created buzzing vibrations deep in my ear canal. In his introductory remarks, Mr. Ingalls called these "difference tones," which are a perceptual phenomena created by the ear. After a few minutes, though, I was beaten into submission. I started experiencing the sensation as pain, so I sat through the conclusion of Mr. Ingalls' performance with my fingers crassly in my ears. I felt like I had a screwdriver jammed into my ears for an hour afterward.
§ SF Sound Salon Series
Benjamin Kreith / Travis Andrews Duo; Matt Ingalls solo
Benjamin Kreith, violin
Travis Andrews, guitar
Matt Ingalls, clarinet
Carlo Prosperi: In Nocte
Mr. Kreith & Mr. Ingalls
David del Puerto: Jardín bajo la luna
Mr. Kreith & Mr. Ingalls
Elliott Carter: Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi
Örjan Sandred: Cracks and Corrosion II
Mr. Kreith, Mr. Ingalls, Mr. Andrews
Center for New Music
Tuesday, March 25, 2014: 7:49 pm