The Broadway Bach Ensemble presents its first concert of the season this Sunday, October 26. Michael Adelson conducts, Christopher Oldfather is the piano soloist in Bartok’s Third Concerto, plus Mozart’s Symphony No. 34 and the premiere of Adelson’s new work “Terminus.”
We rehearsed Terminus for the first time last night, and it’s kind of interesting. Adelson writes music that consists of series of free-form blocks of events, within which the musicians have a lot of leeway. Not exactly improvisatory, but with elements of chance so that each performance is totally different.
In this work, the string section is given individual parts. Each player has a set of three or four notes which they play ff in any order they wish. At the beginning, the widest possible range of pitches is represented, from the lowest basses to the highest violins. In each of the 30 or so sections, the sets of pitches converge until the entire section is playing within a minor second.
During these sections, the winds are instructed to select, ad lib, extracts from one of the other pieces on the program. These excerpts are to be played, again ff, very very slowly, with space in between.
Alternating with these sections are very soft passages for a solo quartet, in which they randomly play excerpts from another piece on the program.
As the piece progresses over 10 minutes, the loud sections converge around the two pitches as the alternation becomes faster.
We did a quick-time run through last night, and it has possibilities (though I wish we’d seen it sooner). A lot of the success of a piece like this lies in the solid commitment of the orchestra to the spirit of the composition.
Did I mention the concert is free?
Broadway Presbyterian Church, Broadway and W. 114th Street, New York City. 2:00 pm start time. Be there.