Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Forty-Two Year Old European Composer Quietly Storming Cultural And Intellectual Bastions Of Paris, the EU, San Francisco, And Berkeley

San Francisco-based composer David Coll (returned from his Paris fellowship) has written to inform me that new European composer Yan Maresz will be a distinguished Regents Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley this term. [ The purpose of the program is to bring to the University distinguished persons whose careers in arts, letters, sciences, or business have been substantially outside the academic profession. Last year brought Argentinian composer Martin Matalon, American new vocal music champion Lucy Shelton, British poet/librettist/filmmaker/theater director Tony Harrison, and Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa to the Berkeley campus for residencies.]

I quickly located critic Joshua Kosman's exciting review from a performance of one of Yan Maresz works a year ago:

"Yan Maresz, a 41-year-old Moroccan-born [sic -- actually Monaco-born, says David C. in comment below] Parisian, was a new name to at least one observer, but his sextet "Entrelacs (Interlacings)" - a vivid, dazzling tour de force written a decade ago - was easily the highlight of Monday's concert at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum [in the new arts and museum district of San Francisco]. Music Director David Milnes conducted a taut and focused performance.

Maresz wastes no time on misty scene-setting or prefatory gestures. "Entrelacs," scored for a mixed ensemble, races out of the starting gate with a breathless unison melody, then begins to splinter off into shivery fragments. In later episodes, the tempo slows down - sometimes almost to stasis - but the dramatic momentum remains compelling throughout.

Part of that is due to Maresz's technique of linking the sections of his 13-minute score by maintaining one element of the music - a distinctive melodic figure, a textural configuration or a rhythmic pattern - while introducing new material around it. The effect is to draw the listener on, Sheherazade-like, through a sequence of stories that are always changing but always connected.

Add to that Maresz's ingenious use of instruments - sometimes playing en masse, sometimes in superbly etched counterpoint - and his buoyant sense of humor, and the result is a work that is both profound and richly entertaining. A brief concluding visit from Charlie Parker, who turns the opening melody into a swift bebop riff, only serves to seal the deal.

Among the evening's four offerings by Swedish composers, the closest in spirit and effect was another sextet, this one by Tommy Zwedberg.

"Enso," a 1993 score receiving its U.S. premiere, boasts a similar constellation of hard-edged rhythms and distinctive colors; an alto saxophone emerges midway through as a pace-setter, giving the work a jazzy flavor. But the tone is more provocative and certainly more enigmatic - particularly in the abrupt ending, where the composer suddenly stands up and says, "Oops, gotta go."

For pure comic relief, the program offered the U.S. premiere of Anders Hillborg's "Truffle Hymn," a brief quartet depicting a porcine truffle hunt." ...

Joshua Kosman "Review: Parisian Yan Maresz steals show meant to highlight Swedes" San Francisco Chronicle November 21, 2007


Paging Roland Celette, Cultural Attaché, Director of La Maison Française, Washington, D.C. ...


Photo credits: (c) www.acanthes.com. France, Old-New Europe. With thanks.


Blogger davidcoll said...

hah! i remember that review! Kosman messed up, he's not moroccan-born, he's from monaco!

8:22 AM  

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