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Music Review

Osiris Makes Up for 'Fonk' With a Bit of Irish Laughter

March 07, 2001|RICHARD S. GINELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Looking over the program for the Netherlands' Osiris Piano Trio concert on the Music Guild series at Cal State Northridge on Monday night, your eye couldn't help but stop on one item: "Bring in da fonk." The composer is Maarten van Norden, 45, a former student of provocateur Louis Andriessen and once a member of a jazz-fusion group called Future Shock.

Turns out that the only apparent things that "Bring in da fonk" has in common with James Brown, Savion Glover, et al. are its use of repetitive ostinatos, albeit in a scraping Stravinsky-like manner, in the first movement and some boogie-derived bass riffs for the piano in the third movement. It's a rather sober-sided, often atonal, somewhat waywardly organized piece, hardly as arresting as its title.

Much more satisfying was the evening's other unusual entry, the inventive Piano Trio on Popular Irish Melodies by Swiss composer Frank Martin, full of jaunty Irish tunes, a fiddle reel to launch the final movement's jig and a clear sense of direction.

With that, the Osiris Trio, making its L.A. debut, won over its audience in a way that neither "Bring in da fonk" nor its seamless yet uninvolving rendition of Beethoven's "Ghost" Trio, at the outset, could. Pianist Sepp Grotenhuis, violinist Peter Brunt and cellist Larissa Groeneveld then displayed their excellent sense of dynamic balance and absorbed themselves in the hushed, melancholic stretches of Dvorak's "Dumky" Trio, while providing adequate animation for the work's folk dances.

* This program repeats tonight at 8, Wilshire Ebell Theatre, 4401 8th St., L.A., $7 to $24. (310) 552-3030.

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