Review by Judith Caldwell
Rebecca Morton, cello, and pianist Emily Rho, presented a recital around the theme of Time at the Cotton Factory on Sunday afternoon, for a small, but enthusiastic audience. The thought, preparation and musicianship on display deserved a much bigger following. Morton introduced each piece with amusing explanatory notes which greatly helped the appreciation level. The afternoon began with a delightful March for Solo Cello by Sergei Prokofiev in 2/4 time that was something between a stroll and a sashay – much more fun than a simple march. A Sonata for Solo Cello in three parts by George Crumb followed.
This composition was written in 1955 in 6/8 time with an erratic pulse which meant that it was very complex. The work required considerable musical experience to play well and the introductory notes made it much more comprehensible. The opening Fantasia sounded rather Asian with a mournful, longing tone. The Tema Pastorale con variazioni was complicated, very erratic and the Toccata finale sounded like a train chugging into a station. The first half concluded with ‘Spiegel im Spiegel’ by Arvo Part written in 1978. Written in the tintabular style the piece is meant to represent time standing still as reflected from mirror to mirror and Morton wisely suggested just letting the sound wash over. Wonderful music for a session of meditation.
After intermission Wake Up! written for piccolo by Tilmann Dehnhard in 2001 was adapted for cello and alarm clock. This was a charming novelty piece with the ‘dit ditta dit’ sound of the alarm providing the percussion for the cello. Anton Webern (1914) wrote concise meticulously crafted music and his Three Little Pieces next provided 2 minutes of thoughtful atonality. Apparently his entire musical output is shorter than a Wagnerian opera and he is known as the composer of few notes. The afternoon wrapped up with Suite Italienne (from Pulcinella) by Igor Stravinsky in 1932 as a piece of neo classicism. The Suite is in four parts and is not the music of a composer trying his hand at the classics, it is the same man who gave us the Rite of Spring showing that if you want classics this is how it is done! The Introduzione is assured and expansive; the Serenata is full of longing and is simply gorgeous; The Tarantella is lively, complex, energetic and masterly and the Minuetto e Finale is the only place where there are hints of his earlier music. Altogether a well crafted and beautifully played recital. The venue, too, was interesting albeit labyrinth-ish.