Last night, I was a very lucky arts blogger. We seek out material that fits the mission of our blog, but not often does a performance, or performer, or organization cross our path that completely fits our personal aesthetic as well as our own artistic mission. The preview concert performed by the new Ensemble LPR last night (at Le Poisson Rouge) was a pleasure to review. One major purpose of this blog is to profile and review performances that uphold Tuxedo Revolt principles of performance innovation. So if you didn’t get to attend last night—I’ll tell you all about the performance, and why you should care.
What: The music of Max Richter featuring Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed: The Four Seasons (2012) (U.S. premiere), and Richter’s INFRA (2010) (U.S. premiere).
Where: Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, NYC.
In a previous post, I described a little bit about the venue of Le Poisson Rouge. As I took my place at a table in the back of LPR, ordered my glass of wine, and began to settle in—I realized that Le Poisson Rouge is a bit like an empty vessel, ready to take on whatever art is there to fill it up. As I was waiting for the concert to begin, I opened my mind to interpret the music that was to follow.
The house was packed and the atmosphere electric. I was delighted to find on my table, a kind of proclamation heralding the creation Ensemble LPR (abbreviated here):
“Ours is a uniquely exhilarating moment for music. The old hierarchies of taste have been called into question; the old distinctions of genre have been revealed as obsolete…Indeed, a newcomer to classical music might be forgiven for wondering: Why in the year 2012, is the work of classical music so little a part of the larger cultural dialogue?…Why, among its peer art forms, is classical music the least nimble and most conservative in its patterns of thinking?…Ensemble LPR is that newcomer.”
As a creative rebel, I was delighted to read this public statement. It was a bold move, artistically aggressive, and spoke volumes about the mission of Ensemble LPR.
The musicians took the stage and David Handler made a brief introduction. Then, it was all Ensemble LPR. Tito Muñoz led the Ensemble in the music of Max Richter. Muñoz led the ensemble with precision and through his gestures, helped to highlight both Baroque and Modern elements in Richter’s score.
Richter’s Vivaldi Recomposed: The Four Seasons was deserving of its own blog post. I wondered how this piece was going to work—Vivaldi? Baroque music? Reworked? What? How would that be relevant? Needless to say I was intrigued. Richter did an amazing job of reviving and infusing new life into a work that is approximately 289 years old. Richter blended in electronic sounds, amplification and technology into the original score. Richter deftly reworked rhythmic and melodic elements from the Vivaldi original to give a fresh, 21st Century perspective to the piece. I sensed influences of electronic music, dance music, and possibly world music. Recomposed was an interesting cerebral experience as well. It was as if we, as a collective audience, were trying our best to remember Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but somehow we fused it to the songs and music we experience in our everyday lives. Not because we couldn’t remember only one or the other, but because we love both kinds of music so much. The experience was truly unique.
Daniel Hope, the solo violinist, played a special role in the performance. I tried for a moment to put myself into his shoes. As the soloist with Ensemble LPR, an ensemble focused on cultural relevance, Howe became an extension of the Ensemble’s mission and thus a bridge to the audience. From his performance, you could be easily perceive his awareness of this responsibility. He played with great sensitivity and he filled Richter’s creation with the same artistry he would have used if playing the Vivaldi original. Howe’s playing soared from the violin and filled the space, captivating us in a moment shared together.
As a musician, arts consultant, and writer, this concert was the perfect way for me to wind down the Tuxedo Revolt for 2012. It gives me, and should give to you, both encouragement and energy to do your own artistic projects that focus on cultural relevance. This performance wasn’t about audience education, it wasn’t about learning about Vivaldi or why or when he wrote his score. The focus of Ensemble LPR is to lead the creative charge into a new era of classical music—where the music we perform, where we perform it, and how we interact with our audience is completely relevant “…to the lives of the people who follow the arts, and to people who do not…”
Happy holidays, and I’ll be back in 2013.