Antoine Reicha, Reicha Rediscovered, Vols. 1 and 2 (Ivan Ilić) Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, The Beethoven Connection Brooklyn Rider, Healing Modes
2020 marked the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and ensembles all over the world programmed events around it. Then SARS-CoV2 spoiled the parties.
A number of artists opted to offer counterpoints to Beethoven rather than perform his works. Brooklyn Rider commissioned works by women composers on the theme of healing as a reaction to the Beethoven string quartet, op. 132. These works, interspersed with the op. 132 itself, are collected on Healing Modes.
With The Beethoven Connection, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet put together an album of Beethoven contemporaries not named Hadyn or Mozart. In a similar vein, two albums by Ivan Ilić explore the keyboard works of Antoine Reicha, a friend of Beethoven.
On all four releases, Beethoven lurks in the wings but never casts a shadow.
Flake Music, When You Land, It’s Time to Return
The Shins before they became The Shins.
Keola and Kapono Beamer, Honolulu City Lights
Any list of the best Hawaiian music albums will place Honolulu City Lights near or at the top. Before I developed my contrarian world view in high school, I had actually liked the title track. I was 5 years old.
I’ve gone on record disparaging Hawaiian music, and I do still wish there were a stronger push to strain the music’s borders. But in the last year, I’ve mellowed my stance, mostly because it takes too much energy to hold onto that much snobbery.
So my younger self may be surprised — perhaps disappointed — that I’ve joined the critical consensus on this album.
I had a promo copy of this album I was supposed to review for the college paper, but I had started to realize a lot of the stuff being sent by major labels really sucked. So I gave this album a half-hearted listen, then passed it onto another writer to cover. And I was a Butch Vig fan to boot.
After Sturgill Simpson’s November 2016 concert at the Paramount, I knew my days of rock music concert-going were waning. That was two hours on my feet, and I recognized I had little of the stamina that got me through those kinds of shows in my 30s.
So in 2018, I limited my concerts to classical events. Mostly.
The most interesting piece on the program wasn’t the west coast premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s Funeral Song — it was Gyorgi Ligeti’s Violin Concerto.
Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Shostakovich: Quartet for Strings No. 8, Benaroya Hall, Jan. 27
This performance was the second time I heard the Shostakovich Eighth Quartet at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival. The second movement gets me every time.
Seattle Symphony, John Luther Adams: Become Desert, Benaroya Hall, March 31
Pretty much a single chord for an hour, but it was surprising to hear the choirs enter from behind me.
Seattle Symphony, [untitled 2], Benaroya Hall, April 27
I’ve been attending untitled concerts since their inception in 2012. Not all of the programs sink in, and I can’t honestly remember what the Nikoleav and Rastakov pieces on the program sound like.
Seattle Symphony, Sibelius: Kullervo, Benaroya Hall, June 2
The premiere of Andrew Norman’s Cello Concerto was postponed, and the replacement pieces on the program didn’t interest me. So I traded my ticket for Kullervo.
UW School of Music, Composition Studio, Music Building 213, June 5
I performed at this concert! And I premiered one of my own pieces! It’s called Feldman and Messiaen at the Airport with Eno, and it’s scored for violin, ukulele, melodica and piano. I gave myself the violin part, which consisted of playing a single note for 8 counts every few seconds.
Seattle Symphony, [untitled 3], June 15
I must have been exhausted after the spring I’ve had because I don’t remember a single note played that evening.
Sam Smith, Key Arena, Sept. 8
Based on his studio albums thus far, you would think Smith would be something of a sad sack, but he made those songs of heartbreak sound positively rousing at Key Arena. I just wished the teenagers sitting next to me didn’t shine their phone screens in my face.
Even if I don’t rush out and learn about every piece that gets programmed in the [untitled] series, I still like the sense of discovery that comes with seeing unfamiliar music performed live. That said, Hans Abraham’s Schnee was quite the memorable performance.
St. Lawrence String Quartet, Meany Hall, Oct. 25
I didn’t know St. Lawrence String Quartet did a TED Talk on Haydn’s “Sun” quartets, so I wasn’t prepared for the night’s performance to include a lecture. I also didn’t anticipate that I would immediately get into Haydn.
Brooklyn Rider, Meany Hall, Nov. 13
The first half of Brooklyn Rider’s concert featured new works by women, all dealing with the theme of healing. The second half was Beethoven’s op. 132. I bought a CD to help the quartet fund a recording of the pieces featured on the evening’s program.