The evening's first piece, “Toccata,” is part of a longer work, Come and Get the Beauty of it Hot, created by Talley Beatty in the 1960s. The dance is described as “set in the streets of New York” and has a jazzy feel that reminded me of West Side Story although with a more classic look and feel. Set to music by Grammy Award-winning Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin, the piece incorporates ensembles, duets and trios with a "big" finish when the girls leap—almost sail—into the men's arms with their own arms outstretched. The whole is fun but not very arresting, almost like a series of class exercises.
It's hard to recall a time when Stravinsky's music carried with it the suggestion of impossible modernism. But it did—once. The appearance of Petrouchka on TV in 1960 made the viewer feel quite daring, I remember. It was "dissonant.” And the Rite of Spring, with all those purpose-led insect lives and braying jurassic fossils was just plain intimidating. Little did we know then that dinosaurs were merely large chickens and Stravinsky himself, if not exactly a pussycat, then about as threatening as a Russian wolfhound on Stupid Pet Tricks.
The recent biennial weeklong Boston Early Music Festival (June 14-21) drew unusual attention for presenting full stagings of all three of Monteverdi’s surviving operas (Orfeo, The Return of Ulysses, The Coronation of Poppea) plus the Vespers of 1610. This in addition to the Festival’s usual 9 a.m. to midnight concerts of a great variety of music from the Middle Ages to Bach, featuring noted performers from all over the world. Enthusiasm ran high all week and audiences were large, especially for the Monteverdi events.
The modest setting: a large practice studio at City Center with the room's reversed big-bowl chandeliers providing the "lighting;" the audience on folding, metal chairs. German-born Miro Magloire was everywhere at once; welcoming the audience, providing background before each of the six offerings and repositioning the grand piano and music stand. Magloire's company, New Chamber Ballet, is small with five dancers and often a guest artist; pianist Melody Fader whose brilliant playing enhanced three pieces and violinist Doori Na who played the other three.
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.