This week, in the San Francisco/Berkeley area, the stars have aligned in a way I couldn’t possibly have imagined some months ago. I met Dylan Mattingly and Lembit Beecher, each of whom has been featured on Prufrock’s Dilemma, separately. At the time I met them, I don’t believe they knew one another. This week, the stars have aligned to present world premieres by each of them, all in the Bay Area, and two part of the same festival.
December 7 and December 8, 2012, mark world premieres of Lembit Beecher’s These Memories May Be True (December 7) and Dylan Mattingly’s Gone, Gone, Gone (December 8) in the same festival, Del Sol Days, about which you can find out more here.
On hearing the first movement of Beecher’s piece in rehearsal, George Mattingly reported, “Heard the first movement of Lembit’s work yesterday, and it was wonderful. Can’t wait to hear the whole piece tomorrow night.” Del Sol Quartet posted the photograph at the head of the post and wrote “how could you resist a movement entitled “Estonian Grandmother Superhero”?
On December 7, in addition to Beecher’s work, the program will include a world premiere by composer Matt Cmiel. I don’t know Cmiel or his work (yet), but Dylan Mattingly and he are long-time musical compatriots, as evidenced in the entertaining interview here. The other pieces on the program are Daniel Ward’s These Walls, Gabriela Frank’s Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, Joe Dudell’s Vaporize, and the American premiere of Kui Dong’s Shall We Play?
On December 8, in addition to Mattingly’s work, the program will include a world premiere of Irene Sazer’s Thunder, the San Francisco premiere of Bagatelles for String Quartet and electronica, by Mason Bates, and will close with the great Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe’s String Quartet No. 16, with Stephen Kent on didjeridu.
Last, not least, December 6, 2012, marked the world premiere of Dylan Mattingly’s Invisible Skyline, performed by the Berkeley Symphony under conductor Joana Carneiro, and including the fine pianist Sarah Cahill. Articles and interviews in advance of the premiere can be found here and here, and audio of Carneiro and Mattingly talking about it, backed by excerpts from a Berkeley Symphony rehearsal of the piece, can be heard here (scroll down to previous programs, December 6).
David Littlejohn, a writer who, among other things, writes periodic pieces on the West Coast cultural scene for the Wall Street Journal, has already weighed in:
Dylan Mattingly’s half-hour, full-orchestra “Invisible Skyline,” the most beautiful thing of his I’ve heard, if he’ll forgive me that out-of-date adjective. Continuously pulsed along by the piano, harp, a few percussion and strings, the rest of the strings were allowed to sing their way over them, rising to fortes, softening to pianos, with breaks at just the right places for solo turns by woodwinds and brass. Continuous pleasure, with not one uninteresting, reactionary or stolen moment.
And sometimes a picture is worth a gazillion words:
Congratulations, Lembit and Dylan!
Wonderful reviews of the performances of all three works have appeared now in the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Classical Voice. See quotes and links below for details.
Of Lembit Beecher’s These Memories May Be True: “Out of the haze of memory in the first two movements emerges a rhythmic dance whose energy befits the title (“Estonian Grandmother Superhero”), only to give way to a hauntingly lovely finale full of swooping string harmonics and fluttery whispers.” For the full San Francisco Chronicle Review review, click here.
Of Dylan Mattingly’s Invisible Skyline: “ . . . there’s no denying the composer’s ability as an orchestrator – he blends and interweaves the different sections and their sonorities with a deft hand.” For the full San Francisco Chronicle review, click here. And from the San Francisco Classical Voice: “the atmospheric changes through different keys, textures, and dissonant chords, all layered over the minimalist accompaniment, created a vivid psychedelic journey. It also evoked a sensation as if I were lying on a grassy hillside with my eyes closed, knowing that the glow above the skyline surrounds me, yet floating in the sky at the same time and sensing the colors shifting slowly as if I were looking through a slowly rotating kaleidoscope.” For the full review, click here.
Of Dylan Mattingly’s Gone, Gone, Gone: “The effect was captivating . . . .This piece struck the right balance between fun and challenging, all performed with the fluid cues and a warmth of music-making that befits an ensemble named after the sun.” For the full San Francisco Classical Voice review, click here.