Thursday, April 03, 2014

SF Sound Salon

sfSound photo IMG_20140325_195623_zps47d910b8.jpgLast 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
Mr. Kreith

Örjan Sandred: Cracks and Corrosion II
Mr. Ingalls

Mr. Kreith, Mr. Ingalls, Mr. Andrews

Clarinet Solo
Mr. Ingalls

Center for New Music
Tuesday, March 25, 2014: 7:49 pm


Civic Center said...

Glad you finally made it to the Center for New Music. Too bad you weren't there for Joan La Barbara where the improvisations of Matt Ingalls and friends were not painful but rather the opposite.

Axel Feldheim said...

I'm sure I'll make it back. I'm still thinking about Matt Ingalls's potent solo. I've experienced those difference tones or whatever they are when I've heard opera singers in a small room, but in that case the effect doesn't last long. It's extraordinary, & as my friend says, Matt has to be heard to be believed.