Art of Élan held true to form last night with another stellar chamber music performance. If you live in San Diego and you missed it, you blew it, but I'll give you the rundown anyways. Don't let it happen again!

The program opened with a Rameau piece for solo harpsichord. Truthfully speaking, if I were Ramón Arellano Félix the harpsichord would be number one on my hit-list. That instrument has the depth of kiddie pool with a slow leak (sorry Erick). Last nights piece was as close as I get to enjoying harpsichord music. The piece was intriguing and well played. There were six parts and each of which was a variation on a theme that got faster and faster. At one point I even thought to myself "Hey, if this were transcribed for two guitars I bet it would sound pretty good."

Next came Debussy's Danse sacrée et danse profane. It paired a string quartet with a harp (not the harpsichord thank god) and it flowed beautifully, at times hinting of eastern influence. The piece was commissioned to showcase the harp and Julie Smith played flawlessly throughout. Brava!

The third piece was a cool compilation of 5 dances by Ljova. This guy is a hot new composer. So hot that he goes by a single name which I'm pretty sure puts him in the same league as Ronaldinho, Cafu, and Pele. Each dance was inspired by music from different parts of the world but written in New York. Jeremy Kurtz held the dances together with funky and difficult bass-lines. Cuban inspired "Bagel on the Malecon" and Mali inspired "Crosstown" were the highlights. While I wasn't crazy about it, clearly I was in the minority, as the excited audience leapt to their feet for the rare but honest mid-event standing "O".

And finally, no Art of Élan performance would be complete without something that totally blows your mind. 100 Greatest Dance Hits by Aaron Jay Kernis succeeded in doing so on multiple levels. First because it is actually a collection of 4 dances rather than 100 as the title would suggest. Secondly because it starts out with the string quartet banging on their violins, viola and cello like they were Tommy Lee's (dare I say it) snare drum. Lastly because it closes with the quartet splitting time between their strings, bongos, triangle, hot & catchy vocal percussion, and finally shouting out the phrase "DANCE PARTY!" It was all i could do not to jump out of my seat and get my boogie-ooogie-oogie on!

I don't know where Kate & Demarre come up with this stuff, but I hope they have more tricks up their sleeve for the next 3 concerts. Art of Élan is the hottest music ticket in town.
Posted on 1 Oct 2009, 4:05 AM