Fall 2005 Concert

Join us on
Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 4pm at the
First Unitarian Universalist Church

7150 IH-10 W @ Crossroads; at the intersection of IH-10 West and IH-410 West, San Antonio, TX

Admission: $10

Reception to Follow

~ Program ~

William James Ross Sonata II for oboe and piano
Mark Ackerman, oboe; William James Ross, piano

Ken Metz Three Bird Songs
Chia-Wei Lee, baritone; Irina Khovanskaya, piano

Michael Twomey Dancemix
Sharon Kuster, bassoon; Mark Alexander, piano

David Heuser November Sonata
Beth May, piano

short pause

Elisenda Fábregas Moments of Change
Rachel Rosales, soprano; Elisenda Fábregas, piano

Misook Kim work for oboe solo
Mark Ackerman, oboe

Beth May snail bath, yet a vivid moon (2005)
Mark Ackerman, oboe; Sharon Kuster, bassoon; Irina Khovanskaya, piano

Concert Review: Except 'snail bath,' Composers generally traditional

Web Posted: 11/15/2005 02:39 AM CST

Mike Greenberg
Express-News Senior Critic


The Composers Alliance of San Antonio’s latest showcase concert, Nov. 12 in First Unitarian-Universalist Church, was a generally conservative affair.

Only Beth May, who teaches at Northwest Vista College, honored the old new-music tradition of dishing up something bizarre.

Composed this year for oboe, bassoon and piano, "snail bath, yet a vivid moon" (yes, that’s the name of the piece) opens slowly with rather dark colors, dense textures and obsessive repeated notes that yield to brief melodic flights or stop and restart, like a rat negotiating a maze.

There is a passage of whimpering for the bassoon and oboe reeds alone, detached from the instruments, joined by the pianist on some sort of toy whistle and a squeeze toy.

And then suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of a Vivaldi oboe concerto — supposedly the source material for much that has gone before — which brings the piece to a close.

Bizarre, yes, but with a certain authority that makes one wonder what’s around the next corner.

The excellent performers were oboist Mark Ackerman, bassoonist Sharon Kuster and pianist Irina Khovanskaya.

May was the solo pianist in a piece of very different character. David Heuser’s "November Sonata" is in classical sonata-allegro form, with a churning, dramatic first subject and a lyrical second subject that develop and interact in (more or less) the traditional way.

Heuser writes that Beethoven "haunts the piece in more than a few places." Indeed he does, in certain chords that shine through the modernist tonal harmony, but the brooding atmosphere also recalls the Liszt Sonata in B Minor. Though this music is not particularly spare, it is concise in the sense that every gesture seems guided by a consistent purpose.

Elisenda Fabregas was represented by the brand new "Moments of Change," a set of five songs set to poems by Margaret Atwood. The idiom is romanticism with a somewhat modern face, and the music has a personal urgency that connects convincingly with the questioning, unsettled spirit of the texts.

Well made to show off the dramatic soprano voice, the songs were exceptionally well sung by Rachel Rosales, with the composer on piano.

Misook Kim’s new Piece for Oboe Solo (Ackerman) comprised three short, delicious movements of contrasting character. The first, "Yawn," did not suggest boredom or sleepiness so much as bel canto vocal production (singing is supposed to be like a controlled yawn). The aptly frantic "Caffeine" was followed by a sinuous "Portrait."

Michael Twomey’s three-movement "Dancemix," composed last year for bassoon (Kuster) and piano (Mark Alexander), was great fun. The first movement, "Groove," combined steady and eccentric rhythmic patterns. "Torchsong" was a bluesy movement that quoted Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring" and other modern landmarks. Complexity was sometimes labored in "Scherzo (if you want it..... )."

Ken Metz’s "Three Bird Songs" for baritone (Chia-Wei Lee) and piano (Khovanskaya) on poems by Moumin Quazi was most successful in the last, "Coffee House Sparrows," with its spiky rhythms on piano and strong sense of the text in the vocal line. The other songs wanted better focus.

William James Ross’ new Sonata II for oboe (Ackerman) and piano (Ross) was workmanlike and less compelling than his best recent work, but attractive for its long, yearning melodic line in the slow movement.

The Voice of New Music in San Antonio

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