To the intimate (i.e. tiny) Array Space last night for a concert by the Happenstancers who, in this iteration, consisted of Brad Cherwin – clarinet, Madlen Breckbill – viola and Micah Behr – piano. and, in the first number, viola.
Part 1 of the programme was called Dream Images and was intended to evoke the discontinuous and illogical. It began with Du Yun’s dreams-bend for taped speech, two violas and clarinet as a sort of intro to the main event. This consisted of Schumann’s Fairy Tale Narrations and Kurtág’s Hommage à R. Schumann; these being two of the very few works for clarinet, viola and piano. Added to these was a new work; Abstractions by Nahre Sol. The pieces were played with the movements in the right order but with the composers mixed up so, for example, the first four movements went Kurtág, Sol, Schumann, Kurtág and so on. I like this approach. The styles contrast. The Kurtág is spikey and dissonant, the Schumann structured and Romantic and the Sol playful, tonal (mostly) and rhythmically varied. Listening to them interspersed somehow focusses attention on their particular qualities and has a kind of focus that the conventional way of doing things doesn’t.
After the interval it was a similar story with Night Images; intended to evoke night itself. This consisted of two movements from Brahm’s Trio Op. 114; arranged for viola instead of cello, and the Three Lullabies from Thomas Adés’ The Exterminating Angel. Again the high Romanticism of the Brahms contrasted with the rather sinister, and surprisingly loud, Adés lullabies. The concert closed out with Micah Behr’s own composition; The Poet Sleeps. It’s rather beautiful and a sort of elegy.
I really enjoy these concerts. Brad manages to round up excellent musicians and they conspire to make intimate music in a thought provoking and very satisfying way. You can catch this programme again tonight at the Array Space at 7.30pm.