Two Premieres Reflect the Ups and Downs of Claire Chase’s ‘Density 2036’

The flutist Claire Chase is a neighborhood builder. You can see this in “Density 2036,” her 24-year undertaking to commission a new repertoire for her instrument. And you’ll be able to sense a communal spirit when she provides gratitude to audiences who present as much as a number of gigs in a row.

This week, Chase voiced her appreciation to those that had attended a number of live shows in her current Tenth-anniversary “Density” retrospective at the Kitchen’s momentary location, in the Westbeth advanced, and Zankel Hall.

“It’s a lot of flute,” she acknowledged on Wednesday at the Kitchen. (Listeners past New York can expertise one thing comparable, with most of “Density” obtainable to listen to in recordings gathered on Chase’s Bandcamp profile.)

True. But throughout two packages that evening, Chase provided a beneficiant unfold of composers and their respective approaches to the flute household. As a end result, the music by no means felt staid. You may take pleasure in the breathy qualities of items by Matana Roberts and Ann Cleare, in addition to the harder-grooving materials of works by Wang Lu and Craig Taborn.

Each installment of “Density” has a operating time of about an hour. Some packages characteristic a number of items; some give attention to only one. When the latter occurs, there may be an added sense of risk-taking, for listeners in addition to for Chase. If a composition doesn’t hit strongly — nicely, that’s the complete hour.

That was my expertise on Thursday evening, when Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s “Ubique” premiered at Zankel. This work, like many in “Density” greater than a mere flute solo, drew on the instrumental skills of Chase, the pianist Cory Smythe and the cellists Katinka Kleijn and Seth Parker Woods. (As was usually the case throughout the retrospective, Levy Lorenzo steered the use of digital sounds, and Nicholas Houfek supplied refined lighting design.)

In the early going of “Ubique,” Thorvaldsdottir writes ear-catching passages: flurries of rhythmically dynamic piano-and-flute passages, and some profitable two-cello drones. But as these parts had been reprised in the second half, it seemed like the materials was being stretched, with out a lot new added to the discount.

At the different finish of the spectrum, Chase’s willingness to offer a composers a complete hour additionally paid dramatically satisfying dividends in the premiere of the improvising pianist and composer Craig Taborn’s “Busy Griefs and Endangered Charms” at the Kitchen. It was one of the greatest reveals I’ve skilled this season.

Taborn is storied in up to date jazz, with pianism of delicacy, intricacy and energy. His 2011 debut solo recording for ECM, “Avenging Angel,” is amongst the greatest piano works of this century, and in current compositions for his Junk Magic ensemble, he has additionally been edging into chamber-like arrangements.

So, Chase was smart to ask Taborn for a program-length “Density” piece. “Griefs” positioned him in a quartet alongside Chase, the clarinetist Joshua Rubin and the percussionist Susie Ibarra. (Ibarra, additionally a key presence on jazz levels, has additionally just lately performed the works of Pauline Oliveros with Chase.)

“Griefs” begins with chiming synth figures on a digital loop, plus some thick, doleful acoustic piano harmonies; as is his common follow, Taborn manipulated a small digital handbook that rested atop his piano. After Rubin entered on bass clarinet, Taborn’s articulation of the opening materials accelerated, although the somber temper remained intact.

It took 5 minutes for Chase to enter on a flute — however as soon as she did, Taborn’s piece moved from its griefs to its charms. Across the hour, Chase was given house to accomplice with each different participant in duos, all of which took benefit of Taborn’s invites to improvise. With Rubin, she steered unison traces that step by step branched into rhythmically unbiased cries; the sneaky impact had the high quality of Taborn’s personal pianism. With Ibarra, she reveled in funk-laced passages. And with Taborn, she collaborated on long-lined melodies and freer sounding improvisations.

Taborn himself took just a few dramatic solos of his personal, which had been rambunctious and lyrical in equal measure. But he was additionally silent for important stretches, listening intently to the different musical partnerships he’d set in movement. There was all the time one thing to savor.

After the live performance, I requested Taborn whether or not I’d missed out on some other comparable chamber music of his. He talked about some two-piano items that he has developed with Smythe — the pianist in the Thorvaldsdottir premiere — however mentioned that “Griefs” was the first such piece of his at that scale.

When Chase will get round to recording and releasing this half of “Density,”, Taborn’s work deserves to be a giant occasion in a number of music circles. For now, the premiere is emblematic of the variety of live performance that Chase is aware of the way to ask for, earlier than some other classical music presenter. It’s the variety of piece that may solely be commissioned by a soloist who’s a detailed listener to the broad neighborhood of residing American composers. And that’s a trait for which audiences are rightly grateful.

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