dal niente review: the exciting conclusion

[This is Part III; here is Part I and Part II] Nearly a week after the concert, I have some lasting impressions about the other pieces:At 2.5 hours (including intermission), the concert was just a bit much.  Listening to new music (anything unfamiliar) taxes mental muscles like speaking in a foreign language.  After 5 difficult and thorny pieces on the first half, the singular beer I had at intermission, and a long day, I was sapped for the second half.  In hindsight, a lot of the pieces sort of run together.
That being said, here are some further recollections.Set 1:

The Cheung, Brown, and Balter pieces all fit well together, the van der Aa being the exception that proves the rule, and the Muhly being somewhat out of left field.
  • Centripedalocity by Anthony Cheung
Once, in grad school, I titled an orchestra piece "Pyroxialisticalityness".  Cheung's title strikes me as similarly ridiculous.  And the music sounds how the title looks: filled to the brim, tamped down, and filled again--a sort of minimalist maximalism.  I have had the scene from Amadeus in my mind with Cheung as the young Mozart and me as the doddering Emperor: "too many notes".  Perhaps history will judge me like it did the Emperor and in 200 years, but perhaps the Emperor has no clothes. (4.6 / 10)
  • Growth by Marcos Balter
If Cheung's piece was maximalist minimalism, then Balter's piece was maximalist minimalism: repetitive but not trance-inducing, a quizzical mix of movement and stasis.  Like the title suggests, the piece proceeded logically and organically with well-timed interruptions--just like life should be.  A good piece I wish I could remember more: (7.2 / 10)

  • Uneasy by Eliza Brown
Ms. Brown is a doctoral candidate at Northwestern, and, though her music exhibits a high degree of polish and craft, it uses a rather generic academic language that makes it difficult to distinguish from the other pieces.  Most memorably, the piece explored the very high and low registers of the ensemble, resulting a unique and beautiful sonority. (4.2 / 10)

Set 2:
The second half was a slow blur of scrapes, grunts, and squeaks, wonderfully organized and orchestrated.  Along with the halftime Half Acre, it induced a sort of meditative daze, an subtle reverie of abstraction.  
There's another dal niente concert next week.  Stay tuned for details.
[addendum: How many of these composers are/were affiliated with Northwestern?  Yet again, I joined all the wrong secret societies...]

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