Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 9, 2021

REVIEW: Tanglewood, Chamber Music Concert, TMC Fellows

Tanglewood Music Center, Lenox, MA 
August 2, 2021 
by Michael J. Moran

Though Tanglewood’s annual Festival of Contemporary Music had ended a week earlier, more adventures in modern music were offered in a recent Koussevitzky Music Shed chamber concert by TMC musicians, with three of the four pieces written in the 21 st century.   

Percussionists Ben Cornavaca, David Riccobono, and Jack Rutledge opened with Boston-based composer Steven Snowden’s 2015 “Van Gogh from Space,” in which an array of vibraphone, metal bowls, and woodblocks evoked the swirling images in the painter’s “Starry Night.” The trio rendered its vibrant colors with nuance, rhythmic balance, and a palpable sense of fun. 

TMC violinists Emma Carleton and Helenmarie Vassiliou, violist Brandin Kreuder, and cellist Ethan Brown, with TMC faculty member Stephen Drury on piano, next played Russian composer Alfred Schnittke’s 1976 piano quintet. Written in memory of his mother and mixing a range of musical styles, its five short movements are mainly elegiac, but the closing piano chords also convey a poignant note of hope. The powerful TMC performance met the piece’s frequent technical challenges and captured its clashing moods with haunting sensitivity. 

The percussion trio returned with a vivid account of American composer and Yale School of Music faculty member Hannah Lash’s 2011 “Glockenliebe” for three glockenspiels, fully realizing her instructions that the three short movements should respectively be “somewhat muted,” “ring out,” and sound “loudest and fullest.” 

Gabriela Lena Frank
The program closed with an exuberant reading by TMC violinists Evan Pasternak and Paul Halberstadt, violist Elizabeth Doubrawa, and cellist Benjamin Maxwell of Gabriela Lena Frank’s inventive 2001 “Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout,” whose six short movements draw on the Peruvian roots of the California composer’s mixed ethnic heritage. From a lively opening “Toyos,” a forceful “Tarqueda,” a sensuous “Himno de Zamponas,” a fleet “Chasqui,” a mournful “Canto de Velorio,” to a festive “Coqueteos” finale (which Frank describes as “a flirtatious love song sung by gallant men known as romanceros”), the crack quartet played with fearless imagination. 

On this afternoon, with a diverse range of composers writing such a variety of exciting music and with so many performers of this high quality just beginning their careers, the future of classical music looked very bright indeed.