Review: PNME connects with world premiere of 'Falling'
The world premiere of Matthew Rosenblum's “Falling” came as the culmination of a Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble concert at which the edges between pieces were blurred in various ways. The July 19 performance at City Theatre on the South Side thus was designed to give the feeling that everything was related.
The concert began with Pierre Jalbert's 1998 Piano Trio, with Timothy Andres' “Crashing Through Fences” performed between the trio's two movements. Jalbert's opening movement provided a strong entrance, featuring agitation, off-kilter music over march rhythms, and bittersweet, mournful lyricism.
Andres' piece was a complete contrast. Scored clean and high for piccolo and glockenspiel, it is filled with hypnotic lyricism that's interrupted by some loud kick drum exchanges between flutist Lindsey Goodman and percussionist Michael Compitello.
Jalbert's slow second movement, which is dedicated to Mother Teresa, deepens the first movement's lyricism. The big cello melody was beautifully characterized by Norbert Lewandowski.
The next transition came when a recording of James Dickey reading his poem “Falling” was played over the end of the Jalbert. The poem inspired Rosenblum's piece.
Dickey's poem is prefaced by a few lines from a New York Times story about a stewardess falling out of an airplane's open door. The poem is long and intense but not maudlin as it imagines the thoughts going through the woman's mind as she falls to the earth. It also is challenging because the mind tries to make sense of the whirling fragments of memory, thoughts and feelings in the moment.
Rosenblum's piece begins during the final lines of the poem. It is in 10 sections, which correspond to events in the poem, and uses some of the poem's text. Soprano Lindsay Kesselman sang with beautiful sensitivity.
While preceding the music with a reading of the complete poem has the virtue of making the full context clear, it also means going through the story twice.
Not that Rosenblum mickey-mouses the poem. Far from it. The music has a different pace, more internal variety, and is genuinely poetic but generally cooler and more intellectual in manner than Dickey's work. Rosenblum's piece is a beautifully conceived composition, with arresting ideas and imaginative details of instrumentation. Pianist Conor Hanick plays two keyboards, the second with adjusted tuning that this composer loves and that provides subtle extra colors.
I look forward to encountering Rosenblum's “Falling” again, including its surprise ending – but on its own.
Mark Kanny is classical music critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Photo gallery: Sold-out crowd at Stage AE for UK indie-rock band The 1975
- Jamison fans are still cheering on ‘Voice’ singer from Ross Township