Tag Archive: subculture

An Autumn of Pianists in New York

Marc-André Hamelin

My own fall season of piano recitals began on a high point with Gilbert Kalish’s appearance at The Concerts at Camphill Ghent. (This is the only concert I shall discuss that did not take place within the confines of Manhattan, although one might in a stretch consider Ghent as local in some indirect way, since it is a mere fifteen minutes drive outside Hudson, and Hudson is surely a colony of New York City, tossing together traits of Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, and the Upper West Side. Click here for a more general account of the concert series.) Here Mr. Kalish played the sort of carefully pondered, intelligent program he has been known for since the 1960s.

Ian Hobson – “Preludes, Études, Variations,” Concert 1 of 6: Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Stephen Taylor

Ian Hobson‘s last appearance in New York was an ambitious Brahms cycle in September-October 2013. Extending over six weeks, it offered a comprehensive survey of Brahms’ solo music for piano and his chamber music for piano. I praised this enthusiastically at the time not only for the intelligence and sensitivity of the playing, but for the thoughtful programming, and the outstanding program book, with extensive essays by Paul Griffiths, O.B.E. Just last week, Ian Hobson began an equally ambitious series of six recitals, even more impressively organized, on a more abstract concept, bearing the title “Preludes, Études, Variations,” continuing monthly into April 2016, with this first concert, here reviewed, at Subculture, NYC, as well as the next on December 1. The rest will continue at Merkin Hall on the Upper West Side. This series is entirely solo, accompanied only by Mr. Griffiths’ incisive notes. In addition to 19th- and 20th-century classics of these three musical genres, there are world premieres of new works commissioned by Hobson for the series.

Introducing Weiyin Chen, who will play Bartók, Marc Neikrug, and Schubert at SubCulture on June 13

Pianist Weiyin Chen

Last January I heard part of quite a thrilling chamber concert at SubCulture. The Mirò Quartet, which I have reviewed favorably in the past, excelled themselves in an all-Brahms concert with a young Taiwanese-American pianist I had not heard before, Weiyin Chen. Her playing showed maturity, a deep identification with  the music, in this case Brahms’ Piano Quartet in C Minor and Piano Quintet, an extensive range of color and feeling, strength, and seriousness. The Mirò played with a electric intensity I’ve not heard from them before. This was in fact the second concert of a three-part debut series she has organized for SubCulture.

Stephen Porter plays Debussy’s Preludes, Books I and II at SubCulture, New York

Stephen Porter playing Debussy at SubCulture, New York

One can’t say that performances of both books of Debussy’s Preludes are absolutely unheard of, but they are sufficiently uncommon for Stephen Porter to deserve our admiration for his courage and enlightenment in offering them in the form he did. Not only did he perform both books in their entirety from memory, he prefaced each with a piece from Debussy’s earlier Images, in order to prepare the audience, and included engaging discussions of the composer and the works, not only providing us with background, but preparing us to listen, to enter Debussy’s particular world of sounds.

Hotel Elefant’s “speakOUT,” featuring composer Paola Prestini

Paola Prestini

Hotel Elefant’s spring concert continues their third season theme “speakOUT,” representing artists who are utilizing music to reflect on issues both personal and political. Not only will the program “speakOUT” by focusing on these issues, but the program itself will raise its voice by featuring an all-female cast of composers, presenting innovative work by featured composer Paola Prestini along with emerging composers Lainie Fefferman and Leaha Maria Villarreal. The ensemble will perform Prestini’s Yoani, with a libretto by Royce Vavrek, including a brand new movement from the work, and Inngerutit; the world premiere of Lainie Fefferman’s Hotel Elefant-commissioned piece Impostor Syndrome; and the world premiere of Leaha Maria Villarreal’s This is How We Love.

Towards Bikeopolis, Part 1

One recent morning I witnessed a rare sight; two children, almost certainly brother and sister, were riding their bikes to school. They wobbled along the sidewalk of a busy road. The boy pedaled ahead on his BMX while the girl’s bike was too big for her, its chain rusted to the point where, rather than shift gears, she walked the slightest rise. Commuters alone in their cars sped by on the way to work, their kids’ schools, gym or supermarket. This being outer Sydney, the street made not the slightest accommodation for the two kids and their healthy, intrepid mode of transportation.