Review: Paul Taub Celebrates 30 Years of Music-Making in Seattle

By: R. M. Campbell

The flute is not a traditional major solo instrument but Taub, by virtue of hard work, a lot of talent and a nose for provocative new work, has nearly made it one. He is often in concert in Seattle, either by himself or with others, as well as traveling in the United States and Europe to give concerts. He came to Seattle and Cornish in 1979, after studies at Rutgers University and the California Institute of the Arts with such noted musicians as Michel Debost, Samuel Baron, Marcel Moyse and Rpbert Aitken. Early on he demonstrated an avid interest in contemporary music, a path he has pursued with vigor and intelligence.

In those years he has ventured well beyond his faculty position at Cornish, not only with local orchestras like the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and any number of others, but as a founder of the enterprising Seattle Chamber Players, equally devoted new music. Taub has performed with the players, celebrating its 20th anniversary this season, several times in Russia and Poland (Autumn Festival) and various other European countries. He has broadened the solo flute repertory, often via appearances at festivals and universities throughout North America, including music by composers such as John Cage, George Crumb, Sofia Gubaidulina, Ned Rorem, Toru Takemitsu, Reza Vali and Peter Vasks. His resume is a notable one, both striking and original.

His program at Kerry Hall was a sampler of what he has been up to in terms of new music. Some of the composers have local connections, like Bun-Ching Lam and Wayne Horvitz, and others do not.. The music was rarely earth shattering on the ears but it never condescended to anyone. Most of it has a quiet intelligence and a distinctive personality. Both Lam’s “Loin d’ici” and Horvitz’s “Inside Morning” were commissioned by the National Flute Society and Toshio Hosokawa’s “LIed” by the National Flute Association, while Julie Mandel’s “Blues for Paul” was written for him and premiered at the American Chamber Ensemble at Hofstra University two years ago.

In some ways Taub has introduced the music of Henry Brant to Seattle. His “Ghosts and Gargoyles (Spatial Soliloquies)” was given his American premiere at Town Hall seven years ago. As always Brant is exploring musical space, in this case with a solo flute (Taub), flute octet and drummer. Members of the flute ensemble were positioned on either side of the audience on the main floor with the remainder in the balcony. The drummer and Taub were on stage. It is a fascinating piece that was well-played.

Two of the most engaging works ended the first and second halves of the concert: Reza Vali’s “Kismet (Calligraphy #7)” and Jovino Santos Neto’s “Sertao Carioca.'” The former was a world premiere and the second was dedicated to Taub. They are fine additions to the repertory not only in their immediate appeal but also their musical individuality and rhythmic acuity, which Taub exploited skillfully with his ample, slivery tone and facile technique. It is no wonder he has enjoyed the career he has had.

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