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A Fitting Chamber Filled With 'Echoes'

October 27, 1998|CHRIS PASLES

With its high-barreled ceiling, the attractive Zipper Concert Hall at the new downtown Colburn School of Performing Arts brings resonance and presence to chamber music, for which it was especially built.

Those of us who love the waiting rooms at luxurious train stations can appreciate the hall's high-ceilinged style, with its mix of Art Deco and Southwest colors, where sounds are immediate--if a bit muffled--and where we sense things are about to happen.

So it was Sunday when Southwest Chamber Music presented its third performance of its season-opening program, which included the premiere of Morton Subotnick's "Echoes From the Silent Call of Girona" for String Quartet and CD-ROM.

Inspired by a trip to an enclave in which medieval Jews had been confined and ultimately exterminated during the Spanish Inquisition, the 27-minute work dramatically evokes a little-known event and in one episode prefigures the horrors of the Nazis' Kristallnacht.

Subotnick, who ran the computer that created a "sound environment" along with players, took well-earned bows with violinists Agnes Gottschewski and Christine Frank, violist Jan Karlin and cellist Maggie Edmondson.

The work was dedicated to the memory of the late Mel Powell, whose urgent and painterly eight-minute "Setting for Two Pianos" earlier received an authoritative performance by Susan Svrcek and Gayle Blankenburg.

Cellist Michael Cameron and horn player Jeff von der Schmidt teamed up with Svrcek, Blankenburg and Edmondson for Schumann's romantic, minor and oddly orchestrated Andante and Variations in B-flat for Two Pianos, Two Cellos and Horn.

Violist Lynn Lusher Grants joined the other string players to bring the afternoon concert to a close with a strong performance of Brahms' encrypted love poem to Agathe von Siebold, the beloved Sextet in G, Opus 36.

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