When: Thu., Oct. 27, 9 p.m. 2016
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27
N.C. SYMPHONY PRESENTS: WAVES AND ECHOES
As contemporary classical music continues to build a strong foothold in the Triangle, this concert by cellist Nathaniel Yaffe and percussionist Rajesh Prasad, of the North Carolina Symphony, features two fascinating works written in the past twenty years. Osvaldo Golijov's Mariel for Cello & Marimba is dark and sonorous, attempting to capture the moment right before grief sets in after hearing of an unexpected death. It takes full advantage of the marimba's powerful bottom octave. Andy Akiho's 21 draws on a similarly dark color palette, but imbues it with a weird mix of EDM and J.S. Bach. Crazy cross -rhythms and loops tumble forward with reckless abandon as the piece bounds forward. It also calls on Yaffe to play a kick drum while navigating all those wild rhythms.
But the oldest work on the program, Zoltán Kodály's 1915 cello sonata, is the most affecting. At the time of its composition, it was the first major work for unaccompanied cello since Bach's cello suites, and it quickly found its way to the core of the cello repertoire. What's immediately striking is that Kodály requires the cellist to retune the bottom two strings down a half step, giving the instrument a wonderful, vaguely exotic resonance across unusual chords and drones. The way Kodály develops his ideas—expanding them and contracting them at will—gives the impression that the performer is improvising. It's an incredibly virtuosic work, full of expansive melodies and flashing figuration that require the performer to utilize every inch of the cello.
Yaffe will only be playing selections from the sonata rather than the entire piece, but hopefully those will include the first two deeply rhapsodic movements. These are the meat of the piece, the place where Kodály digs in to create new and striking sounds. The third movement is a boisterous dance, drawing on his research into Hungarian and Romanian folk music. Somehow, the segment feels just a little bit tamer and less revelatory than the rest of the sonata, out of character with the generally somber tone of the the program. To that end, sometimes it's better to let the darkness just be dark. —Dan Ruccia
9 p.m., $9–$12, www.kingsraleigh.com