Warsaw Autumn 2006 – XV

The 12:00pm concert (well, 12:30pm, as it was delayed due to the traffic from the construction on the main street in Praga) yesterday at the Koneser Vodka Distillers was all for percussion quartet or trio. I have to say that before going to the concert my expectations were not so high as I had never really been into percussion music but this concert really changed my mind as it was a truly excellent concert performed by a fantastic group (Schlagquartett).

The pieces performed were:

  • Nicolaus A. Huber – Herbstfestival
  • Caspar Johannes Walter – Luftspiegelung
  • Guo Wenjing – Parade
  • Younghi Paagh-Paan – Tsi-Shin-Kut
  • Encore: Guo Wenjing – Stück

Some notes on the pieces:

Huber- very nicely composed music, wide range of sounds and all very well used, blanket with water was inventive but also every effective(performer had towel in water and raised it from the water, the water dripped from the towel producing sound); earlier the very quiet sections had to compete with car sounds and sirens from the street but later in the piece I found myself so focused on the piece that I didn’t even hear the street sounds, very serious tone and very controlled/disciplined, very evocative, great contrast of soft and loud as well as movement between sections; very focused and quite nice!

Walter- beautiful piece, gorgeous sound world; primary sounds were bowed vibraphone, stroked wine glasses, blown bottles, whistling and wonderful use of simple electronic (sine and triangle) oscillators that were active for most of piece; oscillators faded in and out(but not completely out, receded into background), holding a pitch, slowly moving to another; very nice blend of sounds, quiet and introspective

Wenjing- fun, very active, lively groove, impressed with variety of sounds; three players around six small gongs on table, often they would play and share gongs using different mallets, seemed tricky for each to get out of each others way; a piece both to hear and to see performed

Paagh-Paan- percussion and electronic tape; not as focused, used a lot of wind chimes(not sure what they are called) made of glass, wood, shell, metal; electronic tape part was alright; didn’t find the ideas had strong enough identity nor felt they were used long enough, having a gestural quality; nice piece but perhaps should have been performed earlier in the concert

Wenjing – short, similar in style to Parade, three performers with instruments crouching on ground; false-ending where they threw sticks in air and covered their heads; audience clapped then funny gestures hitting ground and moving body to make percussive sounds and ends with one person yelling; very fun and humorous ending

It was very interesting to hear such a wide variety of pieces be so well done but each in their very own ways and each creating their own unique experiences. I appreciated both the intense focus of the compositions and what the composers must have put in to create that, as well as the performers ability to not only play the piece but truly perform them to such a high level. Before this concert I found most percussion pieces I had heard to be extravagant and virtuosic but was gladly surprised to hear music with such depth. A wonderful concert of excellent music.

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