Jacaranda's new music, Maestra Canellakis and Daniil Trifonov - LA observed

Adés, the British composer who now lives part-time in LA (how nice for us), came to the stage for the standing ovation given his "Lieux retrouvés," a virtuoso work of graphic sensation and infinite nuance played by the stellar pianist Gloria Cheng and masterful cellist Eric Byers, a Calder Quartet member.

The audience went wild. What else? This was riveting music that crept into every crevice of human perception -- be it lulling waters or rugged mountains or a wildly macabre club scene. Cheng and Byers were dazzling. The event, with the composer present, felt like a history-maker

Music Review: Jacaranda Celebrates with Adès, Barry and Davies - culture spot LA

Jacaranda’s “ICONO-GRAPHIC” event at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica on Jan. 30 was an extraordinary celebration of Peter Maxwell Davies’ 80th birthday featuring his iconic multimedia fusion of imagery, dance and music, Vesalii Icones.  Thomas Adès’ Lieux retrouvés (“Places Remembered”) for cello and piano and three Los Angeles premieres by Irish composer Gerald Barry opened the concert with some fireworks of their own.

Cellist Eric Byers and pianist Gloria Cheng were brilliant in Lieux retrouvés, written in four movements connoting different vistas.  Byers began “Les Eaux” with a deceptively sublime sweetness that gradually churned itself into a frenetic crashing wave of energy.  Cheng livened up the meandering melodic streams of “La Montagne” with her zestful exuberance.  “Les Champs” had a simple, delicate quality, and Byers was masterful on the quiet ultra-high-pitched lyric melody, keeping it sustained, slow and pianissimo.  The feeling was fragile, the sound rarefied.  The technical difficulty was belied by Byers’ exquisite control as he approached the limits of his instrument, an instrument that sang beautifully.  The final movement was the lively “Le Ville,” jumping off the stage with its twisted “Can-Can” under an eclectic patchwork of tunes and effects.  Byers was animated, perhaps even manic.  His performance was magnificent, and in response the audience leapt to their feet for repeated calls.  Adès was proud.  Lieux retrouvés was an extraordinary start to the program, and arguably the most emotionally charged element of the evening.

Solo Cello with Sonic Assists from Computer and Freeway - SAN DIEGO STORY

When a cellist wanted to present a solo program, there was a time when he had buttwo choices: either learn the fiendishly difficult J.S. Bach Suites for Unaccompanied Cello or hire an accompanist and give a recital of sonatas for cello and piano.

That was before the computer age, of course. On Friday (Sept. 13) at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan, Eric Byers brought his gorgeous cello, his trusty computer, a portablesound system with the now requisite swarm of cables and simply accompaniedhimself. In a program that lasted just over an hour, Byers offered a sampling of hisown compositions and those of two young American composers—Caroline Shaw andChristine Southworth—who have written for him.

Most of the evening’s music fit comfortably under that minimalist umbrella that comforts listenters with gentle undulations and recogniable harmonic progressions,while assiduously shielding the ear from abrasive complications. Byers’ typicalmusical construction started a piece or movement with a simple fragment that thecomputer then fed back as an accompaniment to further melodic and rhythmic excursions from the cello. All of this music-making happened in real time, so it wasclearly not a sophisticated “music minus one” affair.

Byers’ pieces proved quite strong on cohesion and integration, and in his sonic world,the ostinato is king. But his restrictive structure prevented rapid changes of mood orrhapsodic explosions. Two pieces in canonic structure—computer feedback is tailormade for this technique, of course—struck me as particularly effective, especially ajaunty canon with just enough unpredictable rests to create clever hocket effects. A slower canon, which he described as a “sloth canon,” moved at a profound, deliberatepace with the computer slowing down the original theme by proportions that providedthe piece a dense harmonic foundation.

Byers, who is well-known to local chamber music aficionados as the cellist of theacclaimed Calder String Quartet, brings his luxurious sonority to everything he plays,not to mention a stellar technique that articulates every musical idea with supremeconfidence and pristine articulation. You may note an absence of titles in this review,and Byers gave none for his pieces in performance. Afterwards, when asked if his compositions had titles, he demurred saying, “They do, but I don’t like any of them.”Perhaps when his CD is made, he will have discovered titles that appeal to him.

Southworth’s “Scale,” a ruminative piece for cello and recorded track, alludes toYosemite’s noted rock formation El Capitan and the Nose, a favored ascent of seriousclimbers. The track quietly insinuates misty clouds that surround the heights, and thecello’s mysterious cantilena suggests, perhaps, the climbers’ arduous but upliftingascent.

2013 Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw’s short “In Manus Tuas,”based on a devotional motet by Renaissance composer Thomas Tallis, ranged fromdelicate pizzicato chords to robust roulades from the cello alone. At the end of thispiece, some random freeway noise (Interstate 5 is only blocks away from Bread & Salt)filtered in through the open windows at a consonant pitch of the final chord of Shaw’scomposition. It was a delectable John Cage moment.

This program was the season-opener for Bonnie Wright’s Fresh Sound series and herfirst foray to Bread & Salt, an arts center in the making housed in a former Webberbakery that stopped producing some six years ago. As a performance venue, it isprimitive, but such industrial sites are often favored by new music junkies over fancyrecital halls.

If Bread & Salt catches on, it could be a boon to its neighborhood and perhapsconvince San Diegans there is life south of the East Village.


Ken Herman sandiegostory.com


Solo cello in the Barrio - San Diego Reader

Bonnie Wright kicked off the Fall schedule of her Fresh Sound series on Sept. 13 at brand-new venue Bread & Salt with a full, enthusiastic house taking in an amazing performance of solo cello + electronics by string virtuoso Eric Byers.

Byers opened the first piece with tremolo bowing, slow trills, and subtle sampling via laptop--repeating back certain ideas in different registers for a chamber group effect. He continued with left-hand hammering over an open-string, looped and layered to create a mesmerizing rhythmic tapestry which he drew yearning arco cries over. There were moments of joyous contrapuntal activity as the various motifs orbited around each other like a hyperactive string quartet.

On the next one, he used short, fast bow-strokes to create a buzzing texture and a rhythmic device to string together a stair-stepped ostinato over which he combined long and short bowing and software looping for interlocked melodies. His upper-register timbre is full and rich, and his low notes had a baritone resonance that filled the room.

Sometimes the computer would drone a single note which he would dovetail with real- time harmonies, others were created one line at a time. Pizzicato arpeggios provided the hypnotic bed for one piece as bowed harmonics and glissandi completed the cycle.

The surgical manner in which Byers used the bow was a joy to experience and the intricate fashion in which he connected his live playing with sampling to conjure real- time string ensemble sonics earned the cellist a long, hard ovation at the evening's conclusion. 


Robert Bush sandiegoreader.com