Last night we played at a small venue called “Dom” (means “house”). This is apparently the only place in Moscow where contemporary, avant-garde, or unusual music is performed. Folkloric acts come through and we heard that our friend Carla Kihlstedt, the violinist who improvised with ODEON at Benaroya Hall in November on Wayne Horvitz’ “These Hills of Glory” had also played there. It’s about the size of the Good Shepherd Center Chapel, the big difference being the bar at the back (guarded by a papier mache troll who would have felt quite at home in Fremont). The owner is adamant that it is not a club, but rather a cultural center. We had about 30 or so mainly youngish people show up, which was a nice feel for the size of the space…folks availed themselves of the bar throughout the show, but mostly while the music wasn’t going on. There was definitely the vibe of a concert space, but people were clearly out on the town having a good time with friends. Definitely a concert venue to keep in mind as classical musicians reimagine performance spaces for the 21st century.
Pasha Karmanov announced the program from the stage, translating when necessary our comments about the pieces. Though only one of our works (Philip Glass’ Quartet No. 5) was an official Russian premiere, it was evident that no one had heard any of these pieces before. I think the Golijov “Tenebrae” was especially effective and moving, and the Glass is a real winner. At the end of our program the audience brought us out several times with unison clapping. I’ve never experienced that in the States. It was so sweet.
We also played all three of Karmanov’s pieces, including the two piano quintets (with the spectacular Peter Aidu at the keyboard): Michael Music and Forellenquintet, which are accompanied by film. Forellenquintet is, in fact, a fish story – set in a fish factory, it follows the life and times of a trout whose fate is sealed from the beginning. When we perform it this evening at the Moscow Conservatory, there will be an actual trout being fried on stage as we play. Or maybe in the lobby beforehand. I’m not sure which, but Moscow Conservatory evidently is more lax about such things than Benaroya Hall.