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Ensemble shapes diverse parts into energetic whole

CAMBRIDGE -- Collage New Music closed its season Monday night with four works composed for the group, three of them world premieres. The Collage instrumentalists and guests performed all four with their usual expertise, and David Hoose conducted with clarity and conviction.

Tod Machover's ''Another Life" supplements live instrumentalists with electronics. The live instruments dominate; the electronics add atmosphere and reinforcement. Much of the work of MIT's Media Lab guru in the last decade has centered on exploration and experimentation, or on enabling others to express themselves. This piece revisits some of the musical concerns of his own youth with the resources and experience of maturity; it is about personal expression, full of exuberance and regret, nostalgia and celebration.

Curtis K. Hughes, Collage's current composer-in-residence, came up with a little winner called ''danger garden." In a way this was a collage for Collage, an engaging discourse among incompatible elements -- at some points audience members of a certain age may have thought the needle had skipped a few grooves. Yet Hughes manages to loop it all together.

Andrew Imbrie, who turns 85 next week, is a national treasure insufficiently recognized. ''The Tyger," his latest piece, is a song cycle for soprano and baritone collecting poems by Blake, Wordsworth, and Thomas Moore. Guided both by inspiration and by impeccable craftsmanship, this is honest, eloquent music, full of internal energy. Soprano Elizabeth Keusch and baritone Mark McSweeney sang with communicative directness.

The revisited piece was Martin Brody's ''Beasts" (2002). The title comes from a werewolf poem of the same name by Richard Wilbur. Brody's work cuts away from Wilbur's text for complementary poems by James Merrill and Walt Whitman, before moving in to the unnerving conclusion. The effect is to examine the subject of man's relationship to the animal world from multiple angles of vision. Brody is a composer of the brainiac school, but this piece becomes haunting because it is so lucid. Keusch sang with a serene security that left room for ecstatic flight.

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