Ensemble Dal Niente at Music Institute of Chicago | Concert preview
Dal Niente wraps up a stellar 2010–11 season with another round of boundary smashing.
When Dal Niente designed UNBOUND, a thematic four-part festival of American chamber music, it didn’t just trot out the same old composers we’ve heard time and time again. George Crumb and Elliott Carter shared program space with hot-off-the-press pieces by composers like Joshua Fineberg. Instruments were unconventional as well—Dal Niente pianist Mabel Kwan played an amplified yellow teapot in Alvin Lucier’s “Nothing Is Real.”
The group sees the season out with a bang in this week’s closer, which features a program jam-packed with more of the beautiful, wildly virtuosic sounds that made the year such a wild ride, as well as some guests.
Spektral Quartet (which includes TOC contributor Doyle Armbrust) tackles a sultry score by Augusta Read Thomas, “Rise Chanting,” while local young piano stud Winston Choi works the ivories in György Ligeti’s demanding avant-garde roller coaster, 1988’s Piano Concerto.
Rounding out the whirlwind finale is Dutch composer Louis Andriessen’s “Workers Union,” a partially improvised piece for unspecified instruments, and a new composition by Drew Baker, titled “Microscript,” which is inspired by the Swiss modernist writer Robert Walser. “ ‘Microscript’ envelopes the listener in a stream of evocative timbres and mercurial harmonies,” the composer tells us. “The drama of the piece is enhanced by the manner in which the ensemble forms a single, unified voice.” Dal Niente in a nutshell, then.