NOVA CHAMBER MUSIC SERIES, Libby Gardner Concert Hall, Jan. 22

Jason Hardink needs to be lauded for the programming choices he’s made as artistic director of the NOVA Chamber Music Series. An ardent champion of new music, Hardink has always included contemporary works on the series’ programs. On Sunday, he took it a step further and presented a concert solely consisting of music by 20th and 21st century composers.

NOVA’s audiences also deserve to be applauded for supporting the series and Hardink’s adventurous programming. There was a sizable audience – remarkable for a Sunday afternoon – in Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

One of the highlights of the concert was the premiere of University of Utah composer Steve Roens’ Simple Preceptsfor string trio, played by violinist Hasse Borup, violist Julie

Steve Roens

Edwards and cellist Noriko Kishi.

Simple Precepts is a multi-movement work in which each section is related to the others by thematic/motivic recurrences and compositional devices such as canons. The musical style is typical for Roens; it’s freely atonal, but expressive and lyrical. The three gave a musical account that captured the nuances and subtleties of the score. Their playing was articulate and brought definition and cohesion to the piece.

Borup also played Pierre Boulez’s Anthèmes II for violin and electronics. Boulez is one of the most significant and influential composers today, and it was rewarding to have one of his works on the program.

Anthèmes II is a compelling piece in which the live sounds generated by Borup’s part were electronically transformed and altered. One can view the piece as either a duet for one violin or a solo played by a supercharged violin. In either case it’s mesmerizing, and Borup did a fabulous job with it.

Utah Symphony concertmaster Ralph Matson was also on hand, playing two pieces with Hardink at the piano. The first was Charles Ives’ Violin Sonata No. 2. The two gave a radiant account that brought out the expressiveness of the music and brought a cohesiveness to the disparate elements at work here.

The other piece they collaborated on was Maurice Ravel’s sole Violin Sonata. An esoteric yet wonderful piece that combines a number of different musical elements, including a languid blues inspired slow movement, it is one of Ravel’s most revealing works. And Matson and Hardink did it full justice, bringing a luminescence to their playing.

The concert opened with two shorter works: Elliot Carter’s lyrical Elegy, played by Edwards and Hardink; and Jason Eckardt’s virtuosic A way (tracing), played by Kishi.

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About Edward Reichel

Edward Reichel, author, writer and composer, has been covering the classical music scene in Utah since 1997. For many years he served as the primary music critic for the Deseret News. He has also written for a number of publications, including Chamber Music Magazine, OPERA Magazine, 15 Bytes, Park City Magazine and Salt Lake Magazine. He holds a Ph.D. in composition from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He can be reached at Reichel Recommends is also on Twitter @ReichelArts.

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