Carter heaven

By LLOYD SCHWARTZ  |  November 20, 2007

The piece takes off from a simple 13-note “mantra” (all 12 pitches of a scale with a repetition of the opening tone). I couldn’t follow this progression at all, but the music, through its expansions, contractions, inversions, and sonic alterations (including something like short-wave static and Morse-code signals) was consistently gripping — and beautiful. The playing was splendid, ranging from the exquisitely spectral to the vigorously assaultive. The performance was organized by Chris Kyriakakis of the University of Southern California’s Immersive Audio Lab as part of USC’s Visions and Voices program linking music and technology. It will be repeated at Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles on February 13.

Some attendees at “Beckett at 100” (three short Samuel Beckett plays) at Harvard’s New College Theatre last weekend were surprised to hear incidental music composed by Martin Pearlman, founder and music director of the early-music group Boston Baroque. But Pearlman is an impressive composer, and his new score is by turns eerie and joky — as when, in Cascando, percussionist Robert Schulz’s police whistle tries to halt the eloquent rhapsodizing of violinist Gil Morgenstern and pianist Donald Berman. Pearlman’s evocative music seemed so right for these unsettling plays, it’s now hard for me to imagine them without it.

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