August 15, 2013
On Thursday, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart presented the second of the International Contemporary Ensemble’s ten concerts in their provocative residency. These superb performers' valiant efforts nearly sustained this program too dense for a summer festival. William Schimmel, the éminence grise of the accordion, set the stage with his transcription of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. Distinguished by his command and charisma, this not entirely successful arrangement’s exploration of the instrument’s idiomatic polychromatic adornments whetted the palette for the rest of the program. Some could argue it contributed to Goethe’s message, but not, I think, to Beethoven's.
It was an intellectually brilliant idea to program next two of the German composer Matthias Pintscher’s demanding chamber pieces, “dernier espace avec introspecteur" (1994) for accordion and cello, and "Study II for Treatise on the Veil" (2005) for string trio, infused respectively by the spirits of a Sculptural Environment by Joseph Beuys, and two mammoth paintings of Cy Twombly’s. In the former the pinpoint sonic assurance of the beautiful young cellist Katinka Kleijn contrasted with a more open-collared approach from the older Mr. Schimmel. This slowly unfolding soundscape was overlong.
Mr. Pintscher’s trio is worthy of respect and many more hearings. If one could associate the word love with such cerebral music, it came from the performers’ lavishly delicate and transparently honest realization of this quiet work. Might future runs of this Study benefit from the smallest trace of whimsy? With admiration I say this composition sounds like hearing the Autobahn at 3:00 a.m. in a farmhouse five kilometers away.
It was unfair to ask our musicians to conclude with Beethoven’s early G major String Trio Op. 9 #1 (1797) Admirable was violist Maiya Papach’s effortless switching of instruments after the scordatura of the Pintscher, but it wasn’t until the scherzo that the group seemed to find a natural footing. The presto stamped a vibrant ending to a very impressive evening. A final bow belongs to violinist David Bowlin, who, along with all of this evening’s artists, is a consistently and compellingly marvelous chamber musician.