Archive for October, 2013

but also, Germany vs Italy 4-0
Photo by The Resentment Listener

eK musicians on a FZ background

On October 11, 2013 the Ensemble Kontraste (eK), directed by Kevin John Edusei, performed in Nuremberg, at the Tafelhalle. The program included music by Frank Zappa, most of it taken from the Ensemble Modern repertoire, with the exception of Duodenum, listed as Lumpy Gravy, and Peaches en Regalia, presented in an arrangement slightly different from the Askin one. Here is the complete program:

Frank Zappa
The Dog Breath Variations / Uncle Meat (arranged by Ali Askin)
Outrage at Valdez (arranged by Frank Zappa)
Peaches en Regalia (arranged by Gene Pritsker)

Gene Pritsker
Reinventions I – V

Joe Duddell
Dole Stages

Steve Martland
Mr. Anderson`s Pavane
Beat the Retreat
Horses of Instruction

Encores

Frank Zappa
G-Spot Tornado (arranged by Ali Askin)
Lumpy Gravy (arranged by Gene Pritsker)

The Ensemble Kontraste, founded in 1990, mostly performs in this little Hall (seats about 500), which is part of the Nuremberg KunstKulturQuartier. In their own words, eK deals with old and new material with an “undogmatic approach”, and that should be one of the reasons why they went for Zappa. And they successfully did it: they have played with both accuracy and swing. Zappa’s eyebrows live in Nurenberg!

Since the season 2010/11 Kevin John Edusei is working as permanent conductor and artistic advisor of the ensemble Kontraste. His stunning repertoire includes composers from the past (from Beethoven to Wagner) as well as XX and XXI century ones (e.g. Andriessen, Eötvös, Varèse), FZ being one of the most represented between the latest (in his website he lists Dupree’s Paradise, The Girl in the Magnesium Dress and Naval Aviation in Art? too). Also, he has been announced as the Chief Conductor of the Munich Symphony Orchestra. His three year term will begin in October 2014.

As for the musicians, a list is available here, but the eK may have had a different assemblage on October 11, they had a second (electric) keyboard player and an harpist more, at least. Unfortunately I didn’t get much information about the players. However, I was impressed by all of them, particularly by the string section.

The evening has been named Zappa and Friends, I was aware of Gene Pritsker, but never heard of Joe Duddell and Steve Martland before. After a few research on the Internet I sadly find out that Martland passed away this year at 53. Moreover, Duddell (born in 1972), beyond being himself a composer, he has also been part of the Steve Martland Band (formed 1992), which toured internationally like a rock group, as The Guardian reports in the obituary of Steve Martland. Forcing a little bit, I would describe their music, as performed by eK, as minimalism, with a vein of progressive (especially Duddell), however these compositions defy a real categorization, this must be the “friendship” intended here.

Last time I heard Gene Pritsker was September 18, 2004, in Cologne for an Absolute Zappa concert: the Absolute Ensemble conducted by Kristjan Jarvi and featuring Mike Keneally and Napoleon Murphy Brock. Another fine Zappa Project, which featured a lot of Pritsker arrangements, and his playing as guitarist and dj/rapper. I appreciated most of them (maybe all of them but Dirty Love: too much rap!), and thanks to zappateers, I still can listen to a great Teen Age Prostitute for Ensemble. Ensemble Kontraste performed his Reinventions I – V (solo piano, D.J., Bandoneón, soprano sax, Chamber Orchestra), a piece largely inspired by Bach Inventions. The audience, myself included, appreciated a lot. The orchestration is a really effective mix of different styles, Pritsker has been particularly skillful in managing the frequent and sudden mood changes. In some way it reminded me the Back projects by Uri Caine.

Back to the Zappa eK program, I was really impressed by the performance: it was Ensemble Modern standard. By Kontrast, I keep being disappointed going back again to Get Ready to Zappa, the Rome 2011 concert by the Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble (PMCE)  conducted by Johnathan Stockhammer (I’m sorry but I can’t help doing it). If you think to Nuremberg and Rome in abstract, there should not be any reason why similar musical projects have to give such a different outcome. Or maybe yes: a generalized financial breakdown and consequently no more resources for real cultural projects.

So, as an Italian, I admit defeat: Germany 3 – Italy 0.

And the very minute I landed back in Rome I got a call from my next-door neighbors: the hot water service had been cut off by the city provider, our block of flats owes a lot of money and our administrators ignored the issue.

Germany 4 – Italy 0!

In the following, some more pictures I took at the Tafelhalle, and the ticket.

Photo by The Resentment Listener

G-Spot Tornado through the harp 1

Photo by The Resentment Listener

eK keyboard and piano players

Photo by The Resentment Listener

Kevin John Edusai

Photo by The Resentment Listener

G-Spot Tornado through the harp 2

Photo by The Resentment Listener

Horn players and Kevin John Edusai

Photo by The Resentment Listener

Kevin John Edusai

Photo by The Resentment Listener

Kevin John Edusai

Photo by The Resentment Listener

Kevin John Edusai

Tafelhalle ticket

Tafelhalle ticket

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