Chamber Players offer
By ERIC GIBSON
The Michigan Chamber Players presented their first concert in Rackham
Auditorium Sunday at 4:00 p.m. The Michigan Chamber Players consist of
University of Michigan School of Music Faculty. Most strongly represented
Sunday were the School of Music's piano and string personnel. The program
consisted of Dutch composer John Frederick Peter's String Quintet No.5 in B-
flat major, Johannes Brahm's Trio for clarinet, cello and piano in A minor and
Frnd Donhanyi's Quintet for piano and strings No. 1 in C-minor.
In the Peter, violinist Paul Kantor led the string quartet competently,
resulting in a performance with great dynamic contrast and feeling. The
ticularly strong due to the quartet's
Michigan Chamber skillful ensemble playing. In the ada-
gio movement it was obvious these
Players performers were "one performing unit"
Rackham Auditorium - not merely individuals. This atti-
October 3, 1993 tude resulted in beautiful musical
phrasing, ebb and flow of melodic
lines and seamless performance of the movement.
The piece as a whole, however, was marred by intonation problems,
particularly in the lower strings. There were also several miscalculated
entrances in othermovements which were only obvious because they upset the
quartet's otherwise excellent rhythm.
Probably the most polished offering was the Brahms. His trio for Clarinet,
Cello and Piano in A-minor was composed in 1891, and this was the last
chamber piece which Brahms composed. The work is dark and heavy, and
according to the pianist Martin Katz, Brahms had an "old man's view of the
world by the time he wrote this piece."
From the first bars of music, it was obvious that clarinetist Fred Ormand,
#cellist Erling Bengtsson and Katz were three "equal ensemble players." In the
allegro, Ormand and Bengtsson exchanged lyrical melodies almost as if they
were singing a romantic duet. The adagio movement, in particular, was
expertly played by Katz, almost giving a Rachmaninoff feel to the music.
The only piece on the secondhalf was theDohnanyiQuintet. Perhaps itwas
the work and its excitement, but this composition inspired much more
enlivened performances out of the same faculty members responsible for the
Peter Quintet. Many of the ensemble and intonation problems found earlier
were, happily, not evident.
The beginning allegro movement was masterfully interpreted by pianist
Anton Nel. He continued to manipulate the remainder of the movement with
great success, along with a fine quartet of string players including Stephen
Shipps and Paul Kantor on violin, violist Yizhak Schotten and cellist Erling
Bengtsson. Sensitive playing continued in the adagio with an expressive and
beautiful solo by Schotten.
All in all, it was a breathtaking performance.
Ken Fisher, director of the University Musical Society, promised two free
concerts from the Michigan Chamber Players. If the quality of that upcoming
performance is equal to Sunday's offering, it will be a performance not to be
The University Symphony Orchestra opens its new season under the direction of Professor Gustav Meier.
USO faces new and
By KEREN SCHWEITZER
Professor Gustav Meier has never
been one to shy away from new and
exciting challenges. As conductor of
the University Symphony Orchestra,
he has a reputation for demanding a
high level of performance while pro-
gramming complex pieces from all
genres of the musical literature in-
cluding contemporary works.
The first concert of the year is no
exception to this rule. With Brahms,
Albright and Bartok on the program,
"it will be a tremendous challenge,"
The most recently dated work on
the program, "Chasm" was written by
William Albright, Professor of Com-
position at the University's School of
Music. In addition to composing, he
is highly regarded as an interpreter of
classic piano ragtime and early jazz
He also specializes in performing
concerts of recent works for organ.
"Chasm" was premiered in 1989 by
the American Composers Orchestra
directed by Dennis Russell Davies.
Albright said of the his composition,
"it connects to a series of my recent
pieces inspired by natural wonder and
awe and closely allied to my spiritual
values reflected in sound."
It is well known that Meier is an
enthusiastic supporter of contempo-
rary works like Albright's, but how
do the actual players feel about per-
forming new works as opposed to he
more traditional literature of
Beethoven, Tchaikovsky andMozart?
Julie Artzt, a sophomore violinist
said, "At first I didn't want to do it,
but once I got the feeling of the piece,
I appreciated it more. I like the idea
that Albright came to our rehearsals
and told us exactly what he wanted -
it was more personal."
Haley Hoops, a french horn senior
was very exited about Albright's
piece. "I think it's a wild piece. It is
necessary to play contemporary mu-
sic like this because we'll be playing
it later on in professional orchestras."
Evan Hause, a second year doc-
toral candidate agreed with Haley and
added, "It is important to play these
pieces in studentorchestras. The learn-
ing of contemporary works startshere.
If they learn to play it here, when they
eventually get into nrofessional or-
chestras, they will want to play new
works there as well."
The program for tonight begins
with Brahm's Tragic Overture. Meier
said, "It is Brahms at his best, it is
about the overwhelming fact that life
is going to end." Albright's"Chasm"
is next, followed by Bartok's Con-
certo For Orchestra written in 1944.
This piece fits well with the program,
according to Meier. "It is one of the
great masterpieces of the twentieth
century," he said. Meier continued,
"There is a definite arch between the
Bartok and the Brahms, with Albright
bringing the concert up to the present."
The University Symphony Orchestra
will perform tonight in Hill
Auditorium at 8:00 p.m. Admission
Dancing the Blues
There is more to the blues than
pain and suffering, as Taj Mahal dem-
onstrates on his second offering for
Private Music. "Dancing the Blues,"
a 12-song collection of mostly upbeat
classics held together by his joyous
vocals, is Mahal's attempt to expose
the other side of the blues. This is less
the music of Robert JohnsonandBlind
Willie McTell and more the rolling
rhythm & blues of the post-war '50s
and '60s. Even Howlin' Wolf's
"Sittin' OnTopofthe World"is turned
into a festival of happiness.
While Mahal is obviously enjoy-
ing this opportunity to explore the
upbeat sound of this record, the occa-
sional slow number, such as Percy
Mayfield's "Stranger In My Own
Home Town" merely whet the appe-
tite for more of the same. Mahal's
guitar is also curiously absent on this
disc, found only on two tracks, one of
which is the self-penned "Strut," a
salute to the flamboyant jump-blues
of old that unfortunately is only half-
"It's my elders I'm fixated on,"
says Mahal in the liner notes, and
indeed it is. "That's How Strong My
Love Is,"a soulful surprise, is Mahal's
salute to the late Otis Redding and
"Blues Ain't Nothin'," the other
Mahal original, finds him calling out
to Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters
Ultimately, "Dancing the Blues"
is just that: an exploration of the glory
days of rhythm & blues (the CD con-
tains a 13th track, a straight rework-
ing of "I Can't Help Myself") and an
upbeat picture of the world before
rock & roll.
Remember punk? Working-class
Joes making loud, fun music? Rancid
is kinda like that. They're angry at
authority, they swear a lot, their lyrics
fail entirely to show the plight of the
working class, the vocals are grainy
and the music is rough and good.
A large portion of their songs are
stupid when it comes to lyrics. The
refrain from "Hyena" ("I'm a hyena
fighting for the lions sharel Some-
times the lions share there") is indica-
tive of the angry lyrics that Rancid
shout out. But the band's stupidity is
over-shadowed with their music,
which is entertaining enough to dis-
tract the casual listener from their
flaws. There is periodically astandout
song, like "Rejected."
This is standard angry youth, gui-
tar-based music. It's been done be-
fore and done better, but it's still nice
to hear once in a while.
- Ted Watts
r i wsww .wwsw.. sw w w. i wwrs e wwu
I L wAWAW v aft o&v vw
mr7 Ar t'T''a w t3 W 1 W-W"7 1