Kritikák

Concert Reviews

AGP Agency New York Presents Kristóf Baráti, Bence Szepesi, and Éva Polgár, in Review

New York Concert Review Inc.
Rorianne Schrade
December, 2019
Online

“Ms. Polgár was exemplary in her handling of the piano part. She established a hypnotic tone for the first movement, maintained a solid framework for the highly rhapsodic writing, was precise in what were sometimes torrents of passagework, and skillfully effected decisive tempo changes … Ms. Polgár gets kudos for the restraint needed to play such arrangements without diving into the original – she supported the clarinet in perfect balance.”

Sunday November 24th was quite a day for the clarinet in New York, as this musician found herself assigned to review two excellent clarinet concerts within hours of each other. The first concert of the afternoon, at Zankel Hall, was actually a chamber program featuring Hungarian clarinetist Bence Szepesi, whom I had had the pleasure of hearing and reviewing favorably for New York Concert Review last September, as he kicked off a year of touring with a Weill Hall recital (Bence Szepesi in Review). Mr. Szepesi’s Zankel appearance Sunday marked the end of his touring year with a program of Khachaturian, Schumann, Brahms, and Bartók, duos and trios that corralled the talents of two compatriots, violinist Kristóf Baráti and pianist Éva Polgár. All three have fine credentials, awards, international performances, and recordings, and under the aegis of the AGP Agency they gave us a remarkable afternoon of music.

Starting with strength is usually a good idea, and this trio did just that with the Trio in G minor for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano (1932), an early masterpiece of Aram Khachaturian. One simply doesn’t hear this trio every day, so it was a treat to reacquaint oneself with it in the capable hands of these three musicians. They showed a strong affinity for its emotional power and seemed to revel in the exotic atmosphere and winding ornamented phrases that reflect the composer’s own Armenia, along with Uzbek and other folk influences.

Mr. Szepesi sustained his long, luscious lines with effortless fluidity, as one could expect from the last recital, but the pleasant surprise here was the violinist Mr. Baráti, whom this listener had never heard, despite his very active performing life. Mr. Baráti’s tone has a sweetness that surely owes a partial debt to his very special instrument, the 1703 “Lady Harmsworth” Stradivarius (an instrument so inspiring to him that he in fact named his 2016 disc of encores “The Soul of Lady Harmsworth”). No violin plays itself, of course, and Mr. Baráti showed musicianly instincts at every turn. He and Mr. Szepesi melded beautifully, and the Khachaturian, with its intertwining lines was the perfect match for them. Ms. Polgár was exemplary in her handling of the piano part. She established a hypnotic tone for the first movement, maintained a solid framework for the highly rhapsodic writing, was precise in what were sometimes torrents of passagework, and skillfully effected decisive tempo changes for the three (as in the last movement). One could hardly imagine performers better suited to this work than these three.

Following the Khachaturian came Schumann, his Drei Fantasiestücke (Op. 73), for clarinet and piano. These were well performed overall, though this listener sensed that the comfort level was not as great here as in the Khachaturian. From the opening, which Schumann marks Zart und mit Ausdruck (Tender and with expression), the measured tempo seemed to convey reticence rather than intimacy. Such reactions are of course personal, but one wondered whether the duo of Polgár and Szepesi had yet reached a true meeting of the minds. The second piece, Lebhaft, leicht (Lively, light) achieved just the right breeziness – with the pianist even approximating a reedy sound herself – but the third piece, Rasch und mit Feuer (Quick and with fire) found doubts returning. What one usually thinks of as impulsiveness in this movement verged on skittishness here, and sure enough (as technical ease does often match interpretive decisiveness) there were glitches. All ended with brio, though, even if – to this listener – the final moments had a bit too much dispatch and almost a Mozartean lightness.

This listener, though always hoping to enjoy all performances, was braced to dislike the next work on the program, as one read that it was to be a clarinet-piano arrangement (by Bence Szepesi) of the eternally loved Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2 for piano by Brahms, a work that stands in perfection with no adornment or adaptation; to my great surprise, however, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Mr. Szepesi’s arrangement showed good fidelity to the score, with the added virtue that all of Brahms’s singing phrases had the penetrating and sustained sound for which pianists strive. The duo played it with great sensitivity. Ms. Polgár gets kudos for the restraint needed to play such arrangements without diving into the original – she supported the clarinet in perfect balance.

A strong finish was in store at this point, as the trio took on Bartók’s exciting Contrasts for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano (1938-40). The three gave it an energetic ride, each player making child’s play out of the wild ranges, runs, cadenzas, and brilliant passagework. The first movement, Verbunkos (Recruiting Dance), found Mr. Szepesi in especially fine form with its virtuoso demands. The second movement, Pihenő (strangely: Relaxation) found all three united in a conception of mysterious simmering, as the music invites with its eerie trills and sense foreboding. The third and final movement Sebes (Fast Dance) was stunningly played by all three in impressive synchronization through lightning fast runs and imitative patterns. Mr. Baráti’s technique was stellar in the cadenza.

The Contrasts are always a revelation to hear, with many jazzy elements, including an opening movement that Bartók himself admitted owes a debt to the Blues movement of Ravel’s Sonata No. 2. Its history is fascinating as well. It was composed in response to a letter from the great Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti, though ultimately commissioned by legendary clarinetist Benny Goodman. Goodman and Szigeti gave it the premiere with Bartók at the piano in Carnegie Hall in 1940 (before there was a Zankel Hall), As one listened to this Sunday’s trio (which perhaps deserves a name if they wish to continue as a group), one couldn’t help thinking that they should give the work a repeat performance on its 80th anniversary in 2020. Bravi tutti!

New Yorkban írt történelmet Szepesi Bence, Baráti Kristóf és Polgár Éva triója

Papageno via New York Concert Review
December 9, 2019
Online
English Translation: Éva Polgár

„keresve sem lehetett volna megfelelőbb művészeket találni a mű előadására.”

Benny Goodman, Szigeti József és Petri Endre 1939-es bemutatója után először hallhatta Bartók Béla Kontrasztok című remekművét a közönség magyar trió előadásában a New York-i Carnegie Hallban.

Szepesi Bence (klarinét), Baráti Kristóf (hegedű) és Polgár Éva (zongora) trió hangversenye kirobbanó sikerrel zárult november 24-én a világhírű koncertteremben. A teltházas eseményre a Carnegie Hall Zankel termében került sor, amit kimagasló érdeklődés mellett a New York-i kritika is elismeréssel jegyzett.

A koncert nyitószámaként Hacsaturján triója (g-moll trió klarinétra, hegedűre és zongorára) hangzott el a három magyar művész előadásában, amivel kapcsolatban Rorianne Schrade (a New York Concert Review kritikusa) úgy nyilatkozott, hogy „keresve sem lehetett volna megfelelőbb művészeket találni a mű előadására.”

Schumann klarinétra és zongorára írt művének (Drei Fantasiestücke, Op. 73) nagysikerű előadását Brahms A-dúr Intermezzója követte. A New York-i kritika ugyancsak méltatta az eredeti műhöz Szepesi Bence által klarinétra és zongorára készített átiratot és kiemelte annak különösen érzelemdús előadásmódját, hozzátéve hogy a hosszú frázisok és levegővezetések könnyed kivitelezése azok számára sem volt meglepetés, akik a tavalyi debütálásakor is hallhatták a magyar klarinétművészt.

A két duó után történelmet írt a koncertre összeállt trió. Bartók Béla Kontrasztok (BB. 116) című, klarinétra, hegedűre és zongorára komponált műve különösen nagy jelentőséggel bírt, hiszen Bartók Benny Goodman felkérésére komponált műve a Carnegie Hallban került bemutatásra, de most szólalt meg először magyar klarinétművész, illetve magyar trió előadásában. Szepesi Bence méltán lehet büszke az estére, Chicago és Washington után New Yorkban Benny Goodman nyomdokaiba lépett. A Carnegie Hallban tavaly debütált klarinétművész virtuóz és energikus játékát a mostani kritika is éltette, kiemelte a Kossuth-díjas Baráti Kristóf nagyszerű kadenciáját („stellar cadenza”), valamint Polgár Éva érzékeny játékát (“she established a hypnotic tone”) és reméli, hogy nem ez lesz a páratlan összhangban játszó magyar trió utolsó fellépése. A koncertet a New York-i székhelyű AGP Agency művészeti vezetője, György Ádám nyitotta meg.

Through the Lens

Theater Jones
J. Robin Coffelt
January 20, 2019
Online

The most novel use of household devices award for this concert, though, goes to Elizabeth Baker’s Command Voices 1919TX-MA for piano, here performed by Éva Polgár. This piece uses several vibrators … placed on the strings of the piano to produce an astonishing array of overtones … I found this piece both conceptually and musically fascinating.

Review: Broken Dolls | Sounds Modern | Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Sounds Modern uses music by women composers, and dance, to complement the Laurie Simmons exhibit at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Fort Worth — The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is staging an exhibit of photographer Laurie Simmons’ work, Big Camera/Little Camera through Jan. 27. On Saturday afternoon, chamber ensemble Sounds Modern performed a concert of contemporary works by women composers to complement the Simmons exhibit.

Laurie Simmons’ work primarily features dolls, mannequins, and ventriloquists’ dummies in sometimes mundane, often disturbing settings and poses. Her work comments on traditional gender roles and society’s expectations for women.

To that end, Sounds Modern Artistic Director Elizabeth McNutt designed a program that included a premiere of Sungji Hong’s Agonia for flute and prepared piano, as well as a dance choreographed to Hong’s music, by choreographer Ilana Morgan, with dancers Sharon Barnhill and Linda Wallace. According to the choreographer, the dancers represented the concept of resistance. As older women, too, they represented a demographic rarely seen on dance stages. Musicians Elizabeth McNutt, flute, and Anatolia Ioannides, piano, made much of Hong’s requests for extended techniques. This was listenable, accessible contemporary music.

Sounds Modern is known for its whimsical approach to music and musicianship, and this concert was no exception. Both Elizabeth Brown’s Brown, Party of Two for flute (McNutt) and viola (Mike Capone) and The Pie Is Done, written and performed by the Texas Feminist Improvising Group, used unconventional “instruments” such as kitchen bowls, a coffee grinder, hair dryers, and assorted other implements of traditional femininity. Both the written piece and the improvisatory one raise questions about gender roles and expectations. (Can a person play the cello and vacuum at the same time? Yes, apparently, cellist Kourtney Newman can. But can she do them simultaneously and well? Not really, unless all you want to hear are open strings—perhaps reinforcing that we can do it all, sure, but maybe not all at once.)

The most novel use of household devices award for this concert, though, goes to Elizabeth Baker’s Command Voices 1919TX-MA for piano, here performed by Éva Polgár. This piece uses several vibrators (yes, the sexy kind) placed on the strings of the piano to produce an astonishing array of overtones. While I found this piece both conceptually and musically fascinating, that was clearly not a universal experience. A helpful romance tip to the gentleman behind me, who was snoring gently throughout Baker’s piece: when a lady produces not one but three vibrators in your presence, going immediately to sleep is unlikely to make anything good happen for anyone.

The best-known composer on the program was probably Missy Mazzoli, who composed music for Mozart in the Jungle and won the 2017 Music Critics Association of North America Award for Best New Opera for Breaking the Waves. Her Lies You Can Believe In, for string trio (violin, viola, and cello), sounds minimalist, although Mazzoli says that it owes debts to eastern European folk music, punk, and electronica. Similarly, Eve Belgarian’s Did He Promise You Tomorrow? for string quartet, piccolo, and bassoon, is minimalistic and hypnotically rhythmic, and rather better played than the Mazzoli.

The most interesting work on the program, though, was Alex Temple’s “Willingly,” for flute (McNutt), piano (Polgár) and recording. The recording is created from the voices of Temple’s friends and family. Mostly, they make statements beginning “If you’d told me ten years ago that I would willingly [listen to country music, visit an abortion clinic, sign up for a dating service called Senior People Meet…SENIOR??]” with flute and piano overlaying the recording. The only issue here is that the live instruments overbalanced the tape—if we were expected always to hear the words on the tape. But overall, it was an interesting, bold, and thoughtful use of electronics.

Sounds Modern concerts, which are free, are a wonderful accompaniment to the Modern’s exhibits. Do what I did and make a day of it—see the special exhibit, have lunch in the Modern’s café, with its glorious view, and take in the matinee concert. It was a fantastic way to spend a cold, windy Saturday.

Tasty Leg

Theater Jones
J. Robin Coffelt
September 14, 2018

Online

Éva Polgár is an adept musician not only as a collaborator, as elsewhere on the program, but also here, as a soloist mastering the considerable difficulties of the piece.

Review: Sounds from the Strange Forest (soft control) | Sounds Modern | Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Sounds Modern celebrates the exhibit The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg with work by contemporary Japanese composers.

Fort Worth — Saturday afternoon’s Sounds Modern concert at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth was a tie-in with the eye-popping Takashi Murakami exhibit “The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg,” which closes on Sept. 15. Featuring contemporary Japanese chamber music, the program included a wide variety of pieces from the whimsical to the serious.

The group is a collaborative effort among several University of North Texas faculty and other area musicians, led by Music Director Elizabeth McNutt. She and her colleagues opened Saturday’s program with Toshi Ichiyanagi’s Pratyahara Event from 1973. Pratyahara is Sanskrit for “withdrawal of the senses” and is one of the Eight Limbs of traditional yoga practice. The piece, rather than being written with usual notated rhythms, or even timed rhythms, is timed by the number of the performer’s breaths, meaning that note durations may be different for various musicians. It was not only music, but also performance art. The nine musicians (strings, percussion, electronic keyboard, accordion, and bassoon) donned masks, walked around their chairs, and played imaginary instruments, among other activities, as well as producing musical sounds. It was certainly absorbing, which is where the title becomes significant: pratyahara is the meditative experience of being so focused that one isn’t easily distracted, similar to what is sometimes called “flow.”

Ken Ueno’s That I May Time Transcend, That a Universe My Heart May Unfold was the only piece on the program with a direct connection to the Murakami exhibit, since its title is borrowed from that of a Murakami work. This work, for amplified string quartet (Mia Detwiler and Andrew May, violins, Mike Capone, viola, and Kourtney Newman, cello), accordion (Elaine DiFalco), and electronic keyboard (Stephen Lucas), uses extended techniques to create otherworldly sounds. The amplification seemed largely superfluous, however.

Koji Nakano’s Spring Breathes VI, for flute and piano, was performed by the Calliope Duo of Elizabeth McNutt, flute, and Éva Polgár, piano. Nakano’s short piece, expressive of his discovery of a little flower in an otherwise dry landscape, contrasts minimalist rhythmic patterns in the piano with more lyrical lines in the flute, elegantly played by McNutt.


The most overtly technical piece on the program, and the only one by a woman composer, was Karen Tanaka’s brief Techno Etude No. 2 for solo piano. Éva Polgár is an adept musician not only as a collaborator, as elsewhere on the program, but also here, as a soloist mastering the considerable difficulties of the piece.

Joji Yuasa’s Inter-posi-play-tion, like Ichiyanagi’s Pratyahara Event, asks musicians to make decisions about note duration and other activities during the performance. The piece, for flute doubling alto (McNutt), piano (Polgár), and two percussionists (Nick Bolchoz and Colton Lytle), is conceptually and musically interesting. It features lunging entrances and chaotic ensemble, as well as various extended techniques in piano including striking the strings with a mallet and a tuning fork, and in flute with flutter tonguing, overblowing, and some impressive note bending from McNutt. It’s 21 minutes long, though, and doesn’t have enough ideas to sustain the audience’s interest for that time.

The program concluded with another piece by Ken Ueno, Remembering Animal Sendai, which is an homage to the devastation of the 2011 Japanese tsunami. This work, beginning with solo flute (McNutt), adds an unexpected element of electronic tape, which eventually takes over with distortion and other electronic sounds, while McNutt’s playing falls silent even as she mimes continuing to play.

In many respects, the most compelling piece on the program was the final one. Dai Fujikura’s Scion Stems, for string trio of violin, viola, and cello, offers a theme and set of variations—a traditional form, to be sure, except that here, the variations are textural rather than melodic. Legato, glissando, pizzicato, producing sound only with fingers on the fingerboard, and other techniques created a novel and fascinating close to a largely engaging afternoon of music.

InterSpheres Trio Concert Review – FUGA, Budapest

Muzsika
Szabolcs Molnár
July, 2014

Egy-egy apró részhang, egy apró akusztikai mozzanat az összhangzás homlokzatává vált. Számomra különösen izgalmasnak tűnt az egész kompozíció halksága, s hogy e halkság mennyire magához vonzotta a hallgatók figyelmét.

A Polgár Éva (zongora), Lisa Bost-Sandberg (fuvola) és Jacob Harpster (ütők) alkotta InterSpheres Trio az Egyesült Államokból érkezett a Petőfi Sándor utcai FUGA-ba. A közelmúltban alakult formáció budapesti koncertjének műsora a legújabb időkben komponált kamarazene iránti elköteleződésről árulkodott. A három előadó együtt mindössze két műsorszámban lépett fel, egyébként szóló- és duóprodukciókat hallhattunk. Harpster egy látványos szólómarimba-mű (Joseph Schwanter: Velocities, 2009) előadásával igazolta, hogy kiválón felkészült hangszeres; Polgár Éva pedig Joelle Wallach (Voices of the Iron Harp, 1986) romantikus zongorapoémáját hittel, sokszínűen és nagy meggyőző erővel szólaltatta meg.

A három muzsikus közül a fuvolás, Lisa Bost-Sandberg kapta a legtöbb lehetőséget. A zeneszerzőként és tanárként is aktív fiatal művésznőtől remek hangszeres produkciókat hallhattunk. Judith Shatin zongorára és fuvolára írt, Gabriel's Wing (1989) című darabját egészen éteri, áttetszően tiszta, „susogás" nélküli hangon indította el, kicsit sajnáltam, hogy maga a kompozíció nemcsak a játékos érzékenységére, hanem érzelgősségére is igényt tart. Nem így David Lang remek kis kompozíciója, a deszkalapokra és pikolóra írt lend/lease (2008). A fuvolás és az ütőhangszeres ritmus-unisonója idővel dallami unisonónak hatott, a nagy hangközökben mozgó pikolódallam „elhitette" velünk, hogy a házilag készült, tíz (nagyjából egyforma) deszkalapból összeállított hangszer egészen nagy dallamlépések megszólaltatására is alkalmas. Az internet népszerű videócsatornáján négy különböző előadásban is meghallgatható/megnézhető Lang kompozíciója, és mindegyikben teljesen más instrumentum szerepel. Az a fajta natúr-nyers (nekem nagyon tetsző és „igazi" hangszerre a legkevésbé sem hasonlító) hang, melyet Jacob Harpster csalt elő e lapokból, egyik felvételen sem hallható. A komponista leleményét dicséri, hogy a deszka-pikoló-duett hangzását egy pillanatra sem lehetett megunni.

A kellemesen rövid, koraesti hangversenyt két, az együttes számára írt idei kompozíció keretezte. A koncert Horváth Balázs Dualith című darabjával kezdődött. A glissando-fejjel kiegészített fuvola hosszú hangjaihoz a legkülönbözőbb módon „gerjesztett" zongora- és ütőhangzások kapcsolódtak, a jellemzően rövid hangokra fejlesztett instrumentumok hangjait Horváth igen találékonyan nyújtotta meg. De nem kizárólag a perkusszív, gyorsan lecsengő hangok kifeszítésekor, hanem a különböző fuvolajátékmódok tükörképeinek kialakításakor is igen leleményesnek mutatkozott. E tükörképhangzások egyre gazdagodtak, terebélyesedtek, a kompozíció középpontja felé haladva valósággal elfedték, betakarták a fuvola szólamát. Egy-egy apró részhang, egy apró akusztikai mozzanat az összhangzás homlokzatává vált. A darab második felében aztán fokozatosan visszaálltak az eredeti arányok. Számomra különösen izgalmasnak tűnt az egész kompozíció halksága, s hogy e halkság mennyire magához vonzotta a hallgatók figyelmét. Részben ezért volt kisebb csalódás a hasonlóan érzékenyen induló Shatin-kompozíció extrovertált kitárulkozása, mely Horváth darabja után már-már harsánynak hatott.

Zárószámként a trió házi szerzőjének műve csendült fel. Dan Tramte i/o című darabjának hangzó centrumát is a fuvola határozza meg, illetve a glissando-fej segítségével kialakítható speciális csúszások. Tramte egyszerű skálakivágatokkal dolgozott, melyeket a skálairányokkal ellentétes glissandók már-már orgonaponttá egyenesítettek ki. Az ütőhangszerek és az egyes regisztereiben preparált zongora a hangkép széleit, kereteit jelölték ki. Tramte és Horváth hasonló problémákat vetettek fel, s talán a válaszokért is hasonló irányba indultak el, a két darab mégis nagyon különbözött egymástól. Utóbbi koncentráltabb, előbbi szertelenebb formát alakított ki.

Andrássy Street Music Promenade – Éva Polgár Piano Recital

Funzine Budapest
Paul Dale
September 7, 2010

“The temptation to simply use this difficult music as a vehicle to show off a virtuoso technique must be very real but it does not do justice to the music. Ms. Polgár did not fall into this trap. Rather, she thought the music through and gave measured and intelligent interpretations. Certainly we were treated to moments of sheer virtuosity but not at the expense of the deeper meaning.”

It is nearly a year since we first reviewed a recital by this exciting young Hungarian pianist. At the time, we saw her as a promising talent. In the time that has passed since, she has blossomed into a fine artist.

Street music is a wonderful idea in bringing classical music to a wider public and we should all be grateful for a ‘freebie’ when the opportunity arises. For the artist, it can be more challenging. Simply trying to keep the hands warm and flexible in the chilly autumn breeze can be a problem and the odd lapse is understandable and forgivable. Actually there were very few of these and recovery so good that one hardly noticed.

Far more important is the musicality of the artist, her vision and interpretation of the music. An all Liszt programme (with a little help from Tchaikovsky and Paganini) is technically difficult in any circumstances and even more so in that environment. Ms. Polgár’s approach to this music was both mature and thoughtful. The temptation to simply use this difficult music as a vehicle to show off a virtuoso technique must be very real but it does not do justice to the music. Ms. Polgár did not fall into this trap. Rather, she thought the music through and gave measured and intelligent interpretations. Certainly we were treated to moments of sheer virtuosity but not at the expense of the deeper meaning. If the Csárdás obstiné and the Polonaise after Tchaikovsky’s Onegin are to be enjoyed at face value, the pieces from Années de Pélerinage require mature reflection which they certainly received as did the second (St. Francis) Legend. Her measured tempo for ‘La Campanella’ was a refreshing change from performances that milk this piece for its showpiece potential and the closing work, the 6th Hungarian Rhapsody capped a memorable recital with a fine performance.

In the coming weeks and months, Ms. Polgár will be pursuing her career in the United States. We wish her well and are glad to note that she will be returning often to Hungary so her undeniable talents will not be entirely lost to us.

CD Reviews

Éva Polgár & Sándor Vály: Gilgamesh

The Grim Tower
April 15, 2014
Online

These two extremely talented musicians have created an avant-garde musical tribute to the world’s oldest epic … It’s quite thrilling and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.”

These two extremely talented musicians have created an avant-garde musical tribute to the world’s oldest epic (as far as we know) that predates even the Bible, (and also contains stories and figures that were copied and reconfigured into that latter text) known to us as The Epic Of Gilgamesh. Using several different types of instruments and styles, they’ve attempted to portray some of the events and characters from this tale. Since this is a rather diverse and odd collection of music, let me walk you through this listening experience.

The album begins with a spoken word introduction, read directly from the text itself. And yeah, you really should sit down and read it. I still haven’t gotten a chance to read it myself yet, but I certainly would like to go through it to compare/contrast the stories that were later taken by both the Egyptians and the Jews and added into their holy books. The music really begins with “Gilgamesh – The City 10:22” which also doubles as the longest song on the disc. It’s essentially piano with some shaking effects and a later added section of springy percussion. Other elements are added as the piece continues, including triumphant horns and atmospheric synths. Indeed a tribal sort of atmosphere is created, one that seems almost befitting of our hero. (Yes, Gilgamesh is the story of a great hero, who like Heracles of later fame; accomplished many great feats.) “Enkidu 4:54” comes next with a piano start, but later becomes apparent as a sort of repeated synth piece, which echoes a sort of light flute and includes some other elements later in the piece. It’s very much in the same style of “Gilgamesh” as it builds up in the same way. “Shamhat 4:21” begins with percussion and adds what sounds like the soft whisper of a woman in constant repetition. This album is definitely built of constant repetition. More percussion continues, as the repeated sounds of orgasmic hollers escape from the percussionary piece. It’s quite interesting. Then clanging cymbals come into place as more shouts in orgasm continue. Afterwards, piano serves as a great post-climax section. Piano opens “The Fight Of Gilgamesh and Enkidu 6:31” and it sounds rather threatening, extremely deep and ominous. Creepy piano drives the entire piece, Choirs escape as the battle escalates. This piece seems to serve as a soundtrack to a film that plays in your head. You can almost see the characters dueling each other as this music illustrates their battle. “Humbaba 3:57” comes next, rolling in the piano again – but just until some percussion and a few moments of flute come back into the mix. Things really get good when the sax comes in. “Ishtar 4:50” is next, (Ishtar = Easter) and it comes in lightly with piano. Out of all the pieces, this is the most subtle and romantic of them all. It does however build suspense towards the end. “The Bull 1:49” features frantic drumming as would be native to metal, but then it employs angry saxophones and light piano. Very interesting! “Death Of Enkidu 4:32” features light piano, ominous synths and some vocalization. A tribal feeling takes over the piece (yet the piano still continues) as something truly mysterious envelops from what begins to sound like a ritual. Next we have “Umnapishtim 5:47” (who was later changed to Utnapishtim when Ra wanted to flood the world and then Noah when YHWH wanted to flood the world again.) It’s a percussion piece with still a bit of piano, flute and some tribal shouts, as trumpets later come into play. Piano closes the piece. “Close To Immortality 5:32” is another very subtle track which seems almost melancholic in its funerary piano playing, but it gets a bit ethereal later when synths are added. I’m reminded of a great moment in a role-playing game when I hear this track, as it feels like something really special has happened. Something eye opening and quite provoking. And almost, it sounds like the stars in twilight. This piece actually flows right into the electronic-laden “Back To The City 2:56” which serves as our closer. Though I don’t think this was truly necessary, (the electronics here seem to dirty the piece a little with fuzz) I guess this is how the two musicians thought it would be best to end the tale.

The Epic Of Gilgamesh is told in many different forms and styles throughout Gilgamesh, but these pieces do seem to be relevant to the source material. Each piece seems to fit its namesake and that’s important with a concept album, be it a vocal or an instrumental concept. Trust me, I’m writing one myself! At any rate, if the source material and observation that I’ve given for the piece interests you, then please go pick up the album. It’s quite thrilling and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Highlights: Shamhat, The Fight Of Gilgamesh And Enkidu, The Bull, Death Of Enkidu, Close To Immortality (12 Tracks, 56:00

A Finnországban élő magyar származású képzőművész és Polgár Éva zongoraművész közös munkájából született lemez Piet Mondrian festményein alapul. Hasonló esetekben általában a festmény vagy más művészeti alkotás tartalmának zenei tolmácsolásáról van szó, mint például Modest Mussorgsky híres Egy kiállítás képeinél is tapasztalható.

Aquarius Records, San Francisco
July 13, 2012

Nem így a legutóbbi kísérlet Polgár Éva és Vály Sándor konceptuális zeneszerzőktől, akik a holland mondernista Piet Mondrian nonfigurális festményeit gyönyörűen vibráló minimalista zenévé komponálták ... Minden folyamatot leszámítva, az anyag magával ragadó és élvezet hallgatni. Egy kimagasló darab az Ektro lemezkiadó sorozatában, amit kiváltképp ajánlunk.

A vizuális képzőművészeti alkotások használatának alkalmazása gyakran jobban hangzik elméletben mint gyakorlatban. Vegyük példának okáért Baudouin de Jaer nemrég megjelent zenei és könyvkötetét, ahol Adolf Wolfli kozmologikus rajzaiból kiemelt zenei motívumainak szóló hegedű interpretációja kevésbé szült jó eredmény, mint ahogy azt a képek eredetileg sugallták. Nem így a legutóbbi kísérlet Polgár Éva és Vály Sándor konceptuális zeneszerzőktől, akik a holland mondernista Piet Mondrian nonfigurális festményeit gyönyörűen vibráló minimalista zenévé komponálták. Mondriant, aki munkássága kezdetén figurális képeket festett, egyre inkább érdekelte az a leszűkítő folyamat, melyben a természetet alapelemekre bonthatta, s hamarosan teljesen elvonatkoztatott a nyilvánvaló természeti formáktól. Leginkább jellemzők festői stílusára a fehér alapon merész fekete vonalak, az alapszínekben megjelenő geometriai formák, valamint talán festményeinek zenei ihletésű címei (Broadway Boogie Woogie!) is idesorolhatók. Nem nehéz fellelni tehát hangzás és vizualitás kölcsönhatását Mondrian munkáiban.

Egy érdekes füzetecske található a CD papírtokjában, részletezve az egyes festményekhez tartozó zeneszámok komponálási folyamatát. Mindemelett az is kitűnik a leírásból, hogy az alkotók nem első ízben dolgoztak hasonló metódussal. Korábban Bruegel festményeit dolgozták ki zenei partitúrákká. Kiváló fotók szemléltetik a folyamatot, miként alakutnak Bruegel parasztaraktereinek fejei hangjegyekké egyfajta zenei elrendezést követve. Szeretném látni hogyan váltak ezek véglegesen zenévé, ám térjünk vissza a Mondrian Variációkhoz. A darabok kiindulási pontja önálló repetitív zongoramotívumok sorozata, mely egyéni sajátossággal bíró ismétlődő minőségben jelenik meg hirtelen szünetekkel tagolva, s úgy tűnik, mintha egy szigorú rendet követne. Számítógépes programok és sampler segítségével, hangzásvilágában minegyik kompozíció tartogat újdonságot a hallgató számára: orgona, vonóshangszerek modulációi, majd minimalista ütős ritmusok, mígnem a darabok némelyike epikus méreteket nem ölt kórusszerű hangokkal kiegészülve. Zenei elemként továbbá megjelenik a bonyolult ritmusok beszámolása emberi hangon, illetve az egymásba szövődő ritmustömbök. Természetesen mindennek zenei következménye Steve Reich és Philip Glass, ám ez a zene mintha máshogy hatna. Mintha Polgár Éva és Vály Sándor ugyanarra a magaslatra jutna el mint Reich és Glass, de teljesen más megközelítés eredményeképpen. Minden folyamatot leszámítva, az anyag magával ragadó és élvezet hallgatni. Egy kimagasló darab az Ektro lemezkiadó sorozatában, amit kiváltképp ajánlunk.

A Finnországban élő magyar származású képzőművész és Polgár Éva zongoraművész közös munkájából született lemez Piet Mondrian festményein alapul. Hasonló esetekben általában a festmény vagy más művészeti alkotás tartalmának zenei tolmácsolásáról van szó, mint például Modest Mussorgsky híres Egy kiállítás képeinél is tapasztalható.

Soundi, June-July edition, 2012
Arttu Tolonen

Az ezáltal megszületett zenét samplerrel „törik meg” az alkotók. A zeneszerző-előadók munkájának előrehaladásával mind a zene, mind a metódus kifinomult evolúción mennek át, akár csak Mondrian művészi kifejezése az 1940-es évekhez közeledve.

A Finnországban élő magyar származású képzőművész és Polgár Éva zongoraművész közös munkájából született lemez Piet Mondrian festményein alapul. Hasonló esetekben általában a festmény vagy más művészeti alkotás tartalmának zenei tolmácsolásáról van szó, mint például Modest Mussorgsky híres Egy kiállítás képeinél is tapasztalható.

Azonban Vály és Polgár kissé más, a tárgy objektívabb megközelítésével éltek. A Mondrian Variációk megkísérli zenévé lefordítani a festményekbe zárt információt. Vagyis, az egyes festmények absztraktabb adattá lettek lebontva, melyből az alkotók hangjegyeket és más zenei alkotóelemeket vezettek le. Az 1915-1917-es fekete-fehér képek egyenesen a kottapapírra vetülnek ki megőrizve a vonalak eredeti arányait. A vonalak közötti távolságok határozzák meg végül a hangok értékét, hosszúságát. Mondrian színes alkotásainál, a színekhez hangmagasságok társulnak, így például a kék egyenértékű a Gisszel (enharmonikusan Asz).

Az ezáltal megszületett zenét samplerrel „törik meg” az alkotók. A zeneszerző-előadók munkájának előrehaladásával mind a zene, mind a metódus kifinomult evolúción mennek át, akár csak Mondrian művészi kifejezése az 1940-es évekhez közeledve.

Esetünkben szép és intelligens felépítésről van szó. Ami még ennél is értékesebb, az alkotómunka esztétikus zenét eredményezett ami formájában és hangulatában megegyezik az eredeti festményekkel. Az 1950-es években pályafutásukat kezdő amerikai minimalisták úgy mint Morton Feldman és John Cage, nagyra értékelték Mondrian munkásságát. Vály Sándor és Polgár Éva műveiben könnyen felismerhető ezen zeneszerzők “gyermekeinek”, Steve Reich és Philip Glass zenei nyelvezetének visszhangja.

Az alkotói folyamat nyomon követhető a lemezhez mellékelt füzetecskéből. A leíráson túl a brossúrában megtalálhatók Mondrian festményei, valamint a komponálás folyamatában megszületett partitúrák. A teljes CD együttes tehát kiválóan értékelendő.

Joelle Wallach: The Nightwatch

ArkivMusic
Colin Clarke
Accessed on July 19, 2015
Online

Polgár traces the piece’s gestures (largely derived from those of the late 19th-century piano literature, but the music of the French Impressionists is there too) with expertise.”

The present disc commemorates Wallach’s time as visiting professor of composition at the University of North Texas at Denton. This is the second recording of The Nightwatch to have come my way. I was positive about Stephen Alexander Carroll’s reading (with pianist Stephen Harlos) on another disc of Wallach’s vocal music on 4TAY records ( Fanfare 36:4). Tenor Sam McKelton is marginally less convincing in the first song of The Nightwatch , his voice rather lacking body. The second song (“Assurance”) is more impressive, its bare textures and wide registral gaps capturing the ear. This latter is a tremendous song and forms the perfect introduction to Wallach’s art. One can hear her expert ear, the way she can achieve with economy of means exactly what she wants to achieve. It also acts as a reminder that the art of the Lied is far from dead.

The cat of the title of Alleycat Love Song is the composer’s own “magical cat and mini-muse.” Here, a light touch enables a beautifully drawn little miniature. Soprano Marie Therese Mattingly is most appealingly light herself and concludes with a most cute “meow.” If only it lasted longer than three minutes. Still, as the old adage goes, leave ’em wanting more…

More cattery emerges later in the disc, with the same performers tackling PAX , which uses words by D. H. Lawrence to “celebrate the spiritual life of Wallach’s cat,” as the booklet puts it. It is tender and lovely, shot through with innocence. Mattingly’s pure soprano is perfect for this song.

The longer (17 minute) Sin mañanas (Three Spanish Songs) is marvelously evocative, with guitar imitations on the piano and a pervasive sense of that melancholy that is so indigenous to the region. Christopher Vassiliades’s accompaniments are certainly worthy of mention here. The first song, “La guitarra,” is almost a concert aria in itself at some nine minutes duration. The vocal slides and elisions of “Soñando Sueños de Tango” are most appealingly performed by Isabelle Ganz, who acts as a reliable guide throughout. The all-encompassing sadness of “Los Ojos” is portrayed by textures of the utmost fragility. Bare lines make maximal impact, with Spanish infused gestures sounding as if from a dream.

This disc mixes vocal and instrumental music. The Làgrimas y locuras (Mapping the Mind of a madwoman, 2011) is, as the composer herself states in the booklet notes, a piece of Lisztian scope that attempts to construct the thoughts of a disturbed woman as she walks forever. Éva Polgár is a superb pianist who does the piece full justice, fully entering into the spirit of narrating a story while painting a distraught emotional state. The anguished, dissonant climax is powerful, although perhaps the recording could have demonstrated just a little more depth and bass. The other solo piano piece on the disc is Voices of the Iron Harp , a 1986 love song. The “iron harp” refers to the insides of the piano, a nice idea. This is Wallach in elusive mood. Polgár traces the piece’s gestures (largely derived from those of the late 19th-century piano literature, but the music of the French Impressionists is there too) with expertise.

The song The Firefighter’s Prayer (a setting of just that) was inspired by the events of 9/11. It injects a much needed simplicity into the recital at just the right spot, and here McKelton’s slightly reedy tenor seems more suited to the folkloric warmth of Wallach’s writing. Finally, a piece for the unlikely combination of vibraphone and bassoon. Original Voices , which references the Dies irae, is a fascinating specter of a piece, ghostly and elusive as a wisp of smoke. Fascinating.

WALLACH The Nightwatch 1. Alleycat Love Song 2. Sin mañanas 3. Lágrimas y locuras 4. PAX 2. Voices of the Iron Harp 4. The Firefighter’s Prayer 1. Original Voices 5 • Read more 1 Sam McKelton (ten); 2 Maria Therese Mattingly (sop); 3 Isabelle Ganz (mez); 5 William Trigg (vib); 5 Gines Didier-Cano (bn); 1 Elizabeth Rogers, 2 Chie Watanabe, 3 Christopher Vassiliades, 4 Éva Polgár (pns) • 4TAY 4035 (58:10)