Host: Marc Neikrug
Marc Neikrug: Passions, Reflected for Solo Piano
Yefim Bronfman: Piano
Poul Ruders: String Quartet No. 4
Eileen Moon: Cello
Robert Rinehart: Viola
Fiona Simon: Violin
Sharon Yamada: Violin
Marc-André Dalbavie: Trio No. 1 for Violin, Cello and Piano
Yefim Bronfman: Piano
Quan Ge: Violin
Maria Kitsopoulos: Cello
After a rather quiet beginning of the year, I was back in business last night, and back in the Village as well, for the second CONTACT! at SubCulture event of the season, again presented by the New York Philharmonic and the 92Y. This time, a few musicians from the orchestra would be supporting pianist extraordinaire Yefim Bronfman, to whom I owe my first and fabulous Rach 3 live back at Strathmore, for another short and intimate concert of eclectic contemporary music, hosted by New York composer Marc Neikrug.
Uncompromisingly serious when it comes to music, the coolest new performance venue on Bleecker Street enforces a mandatory closing of the bar during the performance, an atypical but welcome step that was, on the other hand, lightheartedly lamented by Yefim Bronfman. Then all we needed to fully enjoy our evening was for the two young kids in the front row to do us all a favor and sit still for just a couple of minutes, but that was apparently too much to ask, even when offered plenty to eat and drink. Peace was, however, finally restored when their clearly overwhelmed father eventually decided that they would skip the last work and call it a night. Better late than never.
The concert started with the world premiere of a new piece by our host for the evening, Marc Neikrug. Inspired by Schumann and constituted by one large structure made of 12 segments of various lengths, "Passions, Reflected" for Solo Piano was a wonderful opportunity for Yefim Bronfman to display his far-reaching musical skills. Each small vignettes had its own mood - stern, romantic, assertive, gentle, animated, jazzy, explosive - but also occupied a special and unchangeable spot in the carefully thought-out configuration. Bronfman handled this ever-changing work with masterful command and unwavering commitment, not leaving anything to chance.
Next was the US public premiere of the String Quartet No. 4 by Danish composer Poul Ruders. After the quick first two movements, the Adagio sognante leisurely unfolded in all its ethereal lyricism. We did not get to indulge in it for too long though, as the Presto alla breve soon exploded with fierce and unapologetic intensity, before a gentle Adagio brought the whole piece to an understated end. The pleasure of having some remarkably accomplished string players from the New York Philharmonic was nothing but duplicated by having them work their expert bows on such a self-assured, stylish composition.
The concert concluded with the Trio No. 1 for Violin, Cello and Piano by French composer Marc-André Dalbavie, for which Yefim Bronfman was back onstage in the company of two decidedly brilliant ladies. Imbued with plenty of mystery and featuring captivating weird sounds, this one long movement opened with a spiky dialog (argument?) between the piano and the strings, to which it would eventually return. The limited palette of notes somehow did not prevent the composition from being unpredictable and exciting, au contraire. From the strings' no-holds-barred urgency to the piano's random outbursts, among many other unexpected twists and turns, the Trio's refreshing originality couldn't help but keep musicians and audience happily on the edge, and that was a very good thing indeed. Then it was time for a drink.