What’s the last concert where all the composers were new to you?
For some attendees of the Bozzini Quartet’s concert on Wednesday the Norwegian appetizers were dinner. And probably breakfast. But such is the glamorous life of new musicians toiling on the periphery and wondering where the audiences might be. For the curious, the evening suggested answers.
Previously called the Salon des compositeurs and now the Salon qb, ours was the first in a series of premieres and collaborations played in the edgiest runt of our public musical establishments: the Chapelle Bon-Pasteur. Fishy sandwiches were courtesy of the Norwegian ambassador in honour of the Ny Musikks Komponistgruppe whose members wrote most of the music we would hear.
Seven pieces, to be exact, that are spread over three days of concerts after the quartet found performing all seven in one Oslo concert too much. It is strange how such minimal music can become overwhelming.
Kristin Bolstad’s And Nobody Gets Everything Right tore the night open with screaming and stamping, a jet engine, and a violin duel to the death. It was a brilliant piece to begin with because it was the most shocking. It even had the magical effect of temporarily making all onstage movement suspect — usually the mark of a great play — even if it was just dragging furniture around. For about 10 minutes everything looked and sounded meaningful, and very funny.
All this movement was necessary to create a stage for Stine Sørlie’s Alcoves, a work of quieter theatricality with many beautiful moments. It builds from the cello — at one point played by five bows in a huddle, like they were massaging it — to a quartet played standing apart before circling the cello again, this time in the dark. Then Michael Oesterle’s charming and surprisingly melodic Daydream Mechanics V made the transition to more familiar sounding and conventionally performed new music repertoire.
Tyler Futrell’s Pre-echo wittily cycled through effects, its structure holding our attention even though at 18 minutes it was the night’s longest piece. Not so for the three remaining works, including the première of Laurence Crane’s Holt Quartet, which were skilfully played on the edge of silence, had clever concepts worth reading about, and were eye-wateringly dull.
But four out of seven isn’t bad — what’s the last concert where all the composers were new to you? The Salon qb continues April 18 and 19, and the Bozzini Quartet also present a laboratory-concert of new work by young composers on the 27th. Come, and like the pretty young woman who bolted after Pre-echo, don’t be afraid to leave.