Concert Reviews

Insects in a Tarkovskian Landscape: The Manhattan Sinfonietta at Harvard


I just returned from a great concert at Paine Hall and my ears are still resounding with the fabulous music I heard a few hours ago.

The program was part of the Fromm Foundation Series that always forms the high point of the concert season at the Harvard Music Department for me. This year, Hans Tutschku, the curator of the series, invited the Manhattan Sinfonietta under Jeff Milarsky to perform two programs of contemporary music that couldn’t be more exciting.

Today’s program started with an intricate and playful composition for two flutes by Hitomi Kaneko (Miyabi), which was followed by a cumbrous yet yielding piece for tuba, piccolo flute, and piano by Galina Ustvolskaya. The first half of the concert ended with a world premiere, L’Icône St. Nicolas by David Gompper, a piece that transported me into a dream world somewhere between Alban Berg’s Lulu and Henze’s Gogo No Eiko – almost too sweet and sultry to be true.

After the intermission we heard a wild, and absolutely stunning performance of Arthur Kampela’s Bridges by Daniel Panner, who certainly has to be regarded as one of the foremost violist of our time. The concert ended with Luciano Berio’s expertly played points on the curve to find …, one of the classics by this master of recombination, shuffeling, and layering.


Marcos Balter

The most exciting and refreshing piece on the program was however Marcos Balter’s Raw Item for oboe and small ensemble. Balter who is a native of Brazil composes music that is agile, flexible, delicate and fragile. If the sound of insects crawling through a Tarkovskian landscape of swaying grass is something that you find appealing, spend some time with Marcos’ music. I can’t stop listening to the few samples he has on his website and I am eagerly awaiting more opportunities to hear his music.


If you are in the Boston area, come out to Harvard for the second concert tomorrow night, which will include works by Lei Liang (world premiere), Ivan Fedele, Philippe Leroux, and Donald Martino.


One comment for “Insects in a Tarkovskian Landscape: The Manhattan Sinfonietta at Harvard”

  1. […] I wrote my enthusiastic review of Daniel Panner’s performance at the first Fromm Concert Series on February 21, I should have mentioned, that the other great […]

    Posted by Zeitschichten | Air Fencing on the Viola: Garth Knox plays Barroso | March 1, 2009, 7:02 am

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