Harrison: Violin Concerto; Grand Duo; Double Music (with John Cage)

Reviewed on Fri 21 Jul, 2017

Double Music, a collaboration with John Cage for percussion alone, is treated to exemplary playing by the ensemble under Angel Gil-Ordóñez’s well-proportioned marshalling.

Lou Harrison’s Violin Concerto owes something to Alban Berg and much, here, to the remarkable fluency of the PostClassical Ensemble. Required to play an idiosyncratic array of instruments that includes coffee cans, wash tubs and flower pots, they acquit themselves with adroitly pitched rhythmic immediacy in a work underscored by watercolour timbral washes and plosive interjections of oil-intense percussion. A greater debt is due to Tim Fain, who imbues the violin line with a rich, becoming musicality. Less excitable than Madeleine Mitchell and Ensemble Bash (Signum), his altogether lyrical reading is lit up by one telling detail after another. They are joined on the gamelan-accented Grand Duo by Michael Boriskin’s piano for a considered and poetic, if also somewhat diffident, account (noticeably so in the second movement Stampede). Double Music, a collaboration with John Cage for percussion alone, is treated to exemplary playing by the ensemble under Angel Gil-Ordóñez’s well-proportioned marshalling. Worth investigating.
–Michael Quinn