Concluding Visconti’s three-season engagement as the California Symphony’s Young American Composer-in-Residence, the new concerto Tangle Eye for Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev was warmly-received in its premiere performance under maestro Donato Cabrera.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Joshua Kosman praised the concerto’s contemporary exploration of folk idioms including bluesy slide-guitar-inspired licks and ethereal harmonics that conjure a nostalgic sense of time and place:
“In the wonderfully evocative central movement of his new cello concerto Tangle Eye, composer Dan Visconti has the soloist fluttering lightly across the fingerboard, creating a light, shimmery web of sound. Then the orchestra joins in, with the basses in particular sliding up and down the strings, and the hall fills with a musical texture that is both elusive and rich.
“This is a powerful passage in its own right, and it becomes even more so in light of Visconti’s extramusical inspiration. The movement is a gloss on the old American folksong ‘Shenandoah,’ and it’s not a stretch to take the music as a sepia-toned, slightly sentimentalized image of the river itself, with mists rising off the water in a swirl of tenderness and longing…The heart of the concerto is that lovely middle movement, with its pure-hearted simplicity and its Goldilocks-like balancing of depth and form.”
Meanwhile, the San Francisco Classical Voice praised Visconti’s “departing present in the form of a cello concerto”:
“Consolidating what he’s learned over three years of workshopping his music here, Visconti looked to classical models and to a simple, lyrical inspiration: a variety of American folksongs from the Alan Lomax collection at the Smithsonian.
“Impressed by soloist Inbal Segev’s ability to, as Visconti puts it, find nuance in simplicity, he wrote for her a nearly ceaseless flow of through-composed melody, which she played with complete dedication and high intelligence. Regardless of where it was going, the journey was continually interesting.
“The concerto has few quotations from actual folksongs; what it does have is frequent evocation of folk style. Segev played sections with the kind of portamento sliding-into-notes characteristic of Anglo-American folk singers, and others with double-stop drones modeled on vocal harmonies. She switched registers like one singer trading off with another with a different range.
“Sometimes the orchestra was playing with her and sometimes not. It hardly mattered. Most of the accompaniment was a gentle wash of sound that let the cello come through. Occasionally it would coalesce into a single instrument playing quiet harmonic counterpoint behind the cello: a wind instrument, a soft trumpet, at one point a drum (something Prokofiev also did in one of his concertos). As Visconti proved with his guitar concerto here last year, he is a master of quiet sonority. The restraint was beautiful.
“In the finale, the orchestra got fully into the game. In the first part of the movement, Segev played pizzicato in a folk guitar finger-picking style, including glissando slides and slaps of the strings against the fingerboard, a big no-no in the hoary classics. The orchestra picked this up with enthusiasm. Then Segev raised her bow to launch into a quick second section with a lively jazz bent, which became a call-and-response with the orchestra that ended the work with zest.”
Check out Inbal’s preview video showing off sections of the new concerto as well as this video excerpt of the piece in rehearsal:
River Oaks Chamber Orchestra commissions new Visconti work celebrating American punk rock icon:
The always creative River Oaks Chamber Orchestra’s 2017/2018 season announcement includes a new Visconti commission as detailed in the Houston Chronicle.
Celebrating the life and influence of seminal Houston punk rocker Christian Kidd, who fronted the legendary 70s punk band The Hates and who is currently fighting for his life against cancer even as he continues to represent the soul of Houston’s underground rocks scene.
Visconti’s new work Legendary Love will explore Kidd’s enduring legacy in a work for the conductorless ROCO which treats the classical ensemble like a “band” as sections play off each other in a tribute to the energy and righteous message of social justice championed by The Hates.
The Kontras Quartet Offers a rocking new rendition of Dan‘s Black Bend live on Chicago’s WFMT:
Currently ensemble-in-residence with Chicago’s classical radio WFMT, the Kontras Quartet presented music from their Pulse program in a special cabaret performance that featured Visconti‘s signature out-of-control train ride of a blues jam, Black Bend! Check out the group’s hair-raising rendition of the piece here recorded live for broadcast.