Saturday, May 12, 2007

Resonating Strings - Myra Melford and Tanya Kalmanovitch at An Die Musik

Myra Melford: piano, harmonium
Tanya Kalmanovitch: viola, violin

Each time I've heard Myra Melford play live she manages to reach a state of improvisational Zen for a few moments where the attentive listener is rewarded with an amazing sequence of ideas and formal development that manages to be cohesive and unexpected at the same time. She hit that a couple of times in this set. And with Tanya Kalmanovitch on viola and violin she had a like-minded extension to her compositional/improvisational world.

This duo played a mix of free improvisations and Myra Melford compositions. They began with three short improvisations where one would begin playing solo and the other would enter by reflecting gestures at the other player as the performance would then evolve into an interaction between performers. Seeing this live, I was struck by all the arrested gestures - the decision at the last moment not to play the note or bow the string just before following through. Great care seemed to be taken not to add more to the sound than was needed.

One technique I hadn't seen Melford employ before was her "prepared piano on the fly" technique where she would add objects to the interior of the piano during a performance. Hearing her select just the right nodal point on the piano string to insert a stopper or plucking the strings inside the piano added a nice balance to the timbral depth of the viola and violin as it brought out the similarities of the string-ness of the piano.

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