A Weekend for Floating on the East River


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To celebrate Labor Day, Bargemusic is offering an installment of its inventive Here and Now new-music series, with repeat performances through Sunday. Or modified repeats, anyway: Bargemusics schedule lists 14 works, 9 of which were played at the opening performance, on Wednesday.

Mark Peskanov, the violinist who runs this concert barge, said that at the remaining concerts some works would be dropped to make way for others. Deciding which of the scores on the opening program should get the ax will be tough: even by todays hyper-eclectic standards, this was a boundary-pulverizing group of pieces.

Two were solo showcases for Mr. Peskanov. He opened the concert with The Double (2009), David Shohls soulfully melancholy essay in double-stops, with passages that sound like a mildly updated Bach sarabande. Later Mr. Peskanov played Elizabeth Adamss Viola, Viola, Viola, Voil, for viola and electronic sound (three recorded viola lines, all played by Mr. Peskanov), a score with a rich chordal texture, tinted with microtonal clashes and punctuated with vivid, tactile bowing techniques.

Two Whitman Panels (2006), drawn from Russell Platts cantata From Noon to Starry Night (2006), treats Whitmans poetry with a straightforward, occasionally folksy lyricism, and Jesse Blumberg, a baritone, gave the songs a shapely reading. But the musics real charm is in its inventive, richly detailed piano writing, which Steven Beck put forth with suppleness and agility.

David Del Tredici played his own Mandango Suite (2008), a five-movement piano meditation on gay themes. Its movement titles include Same-Sex Marriage and L.G.B.T (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), and its substance is Liszt in leather and spikes (of a harmonic sort), with fleeting quotations (from Mendelssohn and Copland) as a kind of sub rosa commentary.

In the second half of the program the aptly named Fireworks Ensemble the guitarist Oren Fader, the saxophonist Michael Ibrahim, the bassist Brian Coughlin and the keyboardist James Johnston mostly explored the common ground between formal and popular styles, using timbre as a bridge. Frederic Rzewskis 1969 Minimalist classic, Les Moutons de Panurge, for example, carries no hint of avant-garde rock when ensembles perform it with orchestral instruments. (The instrumentation is not specified in the score.) But this groups high-energy version, for electric guitar, electric bass, saxophone and piano, put it in a fresh light.

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