J. S. Bach continues to illuminate us, on Now Is the Time, Sunday, October 20th at 10 pm. The Cello Suite 2 of Mark Hagerty does not ape the suites of the great master, but rather is lit from within by the spirit of Bach. It's a large-breathed, optimistic suite, given a luminous reading by Douglas McNames.
The third Quintet for Winds by David Maslanka is so dedicated to the spirit of Bach, that even a chorale confidently unfurling in its midst is caught up in the spirit—though it's an original tune. Still, quotes and feints abound, and the deft handling of these chamber forces not only warmly counterpoises Hagerty's solo cello suite, it introduces us to an appreciation for Maslanka, for Bach, and for the never-dying muse illuminating all music of good will.
Soliloquy: Music of Mark Hagerty Tracy Richardson, harpsichord Douglas McNames, cello
Mark Hagerty's music is smart and sneaky. Let's start with sneaky. He doesn't show off: his music is so nicely grounded that you don't appreciate the intelligence and difficulty needed to bring it off until later. Whether it's the hipness grooved into High Octane (written for the new-music ensemble Relache) or the Clavier Books 1 through 3 and Cello Suite 2 in his new CD Soliloquy, his music keeps surprising you.
Relache: Press Play Music of Mark Hagerty, Guy Klucevsek, Cynthia Folio
Relache has been slipping the thin leading edge of new music into Philadelphia since 1979. They've done it with a jolly indifference to the clashing of styles or the rocking of boats. Even their name, which in French means "the show is closed," exhibits their iconoclasm and humor. Downtown, uptown, no town, doesn't matter: if it's new - brand new - Relache is all over it.