Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 1/29 & Tues 2/2


American Pastorale is fine with me. There’s some of Aaron Copland’s music that can own me with an opening phrase—his music for Our Town, for instance—and when I listen to Maria Schneider’s widely and highly praised CD The Thompson Fields, topping most critics’ ten-best lists for 2015, I respond easily to its wealth of open-throated melody and open-hearted sentiment, but after awhile it starts sounding a lot like good-quality generic film music to me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that—I like some of John Williams’ scores too. But after playing Schneider’s title composition I felt like chasing it with the music of another lady with a big band, and it’s hard not to find something larger and more multifarious in Carla Bley. Later in the show—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Local 802 Roseland Ballroom time—there’s more contemporary large ensemble music by Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride’s virtuoso big band and, yes, The Lincoln Center guys bringing it back alive from Cuba, but what I’ll confess to liking best this week is the amazing Barbara Hannigan—and she’s amazing even when she isn’t doing something provocative costume-wise—singing her way through Ophelia’s vocabulary from that Shakespeare play in Hans Abrahamsen’s not-too-long composition Let Me Tell You, which sounds like an instant classic to me. Then there’s the Irish-American Pastorale of Aoife O’Donovan, against whose pristine, subtly uninterfered-with voice I have no defenses, unless it’s a brief interruption from Scriabin, and that’s all folks. Next week, I hope, no more bronchitis, and the curmudgeon consigned to the cellar.

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