Bang On A Can and Iva Bittová, DeSingel, Antwerpen, Belgium, 17 October 2008

30. 1. 2009 | Rubriky: Articles,Live reviews

[by Ken Hunt, London] Bang On A Can (BOAC) is an ensemble that blurs the boundaries between rock, the avant-garde and contemporary composition. Their concert in the Blauwe Zaal (‘Blue Room’) at DeSingel – a modernistic complex, founded, so to speak, on the deal that art is the basis and concrete of a culture – featured in its second half the headlining Czech vocalist-violinist Iva Bittová on her own or performing with BOAC. Note the hyphen because she does both at once and sometimes creates a third voice from the two elements in a manner that has to be seen in order to believe.

The sextet comprised Victoria Bass on cello, Robert Black on string bass, David Cossin on drums and percussion, Derek Johnson on electric guitar, Ning Yu on grand piano and Evan Ziporyn on clarinet and bass clarinet. Within that complexity of sound, deeper confusions emerged – such as the clarinet subverting expectations by delivering way-out electric guitar lines on David Lang’s Sunray. The most stunning performance of the set was Julia Wolf’s Big, Beautiful, Dark and Scary – a contemplation, Ziporyn explained, of living in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. (Wolf saw the planes flew over her head.) It was the song a demented hive might sing – a mixture of bee wings and bee stings. It is a piece of uncanny strength yet it fitted into the repertoire of sight-read compositions by Don Byron (Show Him Some Lub) and Thurston Moore (Stroking Piece #1).

Iva Bittová prefaced her performance with one of her trademark playlets in sound involving her sonic reflections and confections, sometimes with, sometimes without violin, whilst wandering round the stage wearing ruby slippers, walking in and out of the spotlight. The heart of their joint performance was Elida – also the title of their joint 2005 album. The suite had already outstripped its recorded version by the time they performed it in London in September 2005. It is now far looser limbed, yet still growing and still being burnished in musical and visual ways – some of the finest reasons for seeing music performed rather than experiencing it from an armchair. Tiny touches abounded. Such as when Bittová clamped her hand to her mouth at the end of a movement, as if somebody was shutting her up. An audio-visual treat of a concert.

Have you enjoyed the article? Digg

Directory of Articles

Most recent Articles