sarah pyle

Sound of Late review: free to have fun

Northwest new music ensemble delights in music by star composer Missy Mazzoli and more

There is a certain liberation in the post-tonal, post-post-tonal, post-modern, post-post music Sound of Late specializes in. Music can be chromatic without being serial; it can be complex without being acrobatic. Academic classical music took a long strange turn to the ridiculously hypercomplex from about 1950 onward, and although a few notable rebels found ways to break away from all the Babbittness and Boulezerie the stench of ivory tower still leaves a bad odor in some noses. So it’s something of a relief when a virtuosic, experimental musician like SoL ensemble director Andrew Stiefel says something like “it’s okay to be rhythmic, it’s okay to be melodic, it’s okay to have fun.”

As one of the Pacific Northwest’s newest new music ensembles, Sound of Late has been carving out a nice young niche for themselves here and in Seattle, celebrating living composers, putting on 48-hour composition competitions, and generally behaving like the bunch of brash young academy trained badasses they are. They’re just as experimental as Creative Music Guild’s Extradition Series, though perhaps less sparse and quite a bit poppier. Their usual line-up consists of flutist Sarah Pyle, clarinetist Colleen White, horn player Rebecca Olason, violinist Bryce Caster, violist Stiefel, cellist Elizabeth Gergel, and bassist Milo Fultz—not all of whom play every piece or even every concert—plus various guests and substitutes. I’ve written about them before and expect to do so again next season.

Violinist Thao Huynh, cellist Keith Thomas and violist Andrew Stiefel played music by Missy Mazzoli in Portland and Seattle.

Violist Stiefel, exhausted from playing Seattle and driving back down for this show, introduced SoL’s Magic with Everyday Objects, the last concert of their first season as a group. Stiefel talked a bit about the first piece of the evening, Mazzoli’s 2006 trio Lies You Can Believe In: “Lies in this piece are not so much a falsehood as embellishing a story.” How right he was. Cellist Keith Thomas and guest violinist Thao Huynh joined Stiefel for lots of dissonant drones, complex meters played against open strings, tightly sculpted dynamics, talea-color interplay a la Messiaen and Harrison, and a recurring ascending theme that reminded me of Masada String Trio’s The Circle Maker or King Crimson’s “Talking Drum.”

Continues…

 
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!