SOLI Chamber Ensemble opened their season last night at Gallery Nord with "Quantum Change," three works that emphasized the quartet's dedication to the American modern tradition while sneaking in a few contemporary twists. Tonight the program repeats at Trinity University's Ruth Taylor Concert Hall.
Mason Bate's Red River opened the evening with five movements that pictured the West in a movie land drive from the Continental Divide, through Las Vegas, to the California desert. Heroic melodic themes left no doubt that this was an American journey, akin to those taken by Aaron Copland through Appalachia and New England, but the overlay of a recorded audio track (with ambient machine noise to depict the new construction at Hoover Dam) and almost manic phrasing at times brought the five movements into the present. Unfortunately, the room acoustics at the gallery were a tad too bouncy to hear much of the recorded sound. Expect better (I hope) tonight at Trinity's concert.
Overland Dream, by Peter Lieuwen, comfortably occupied the center of the concert with a stirring single movement piece that reveled in dramatic, fully voiced unison passages, at times turning David Mollenauer's cello and Ertan Turgul's violin into a full string section. Definitely the most balanced work of the evening.
Hilos by Gabriela Lena Frank concluded the concert with yet another descriptive work: eight brisk movements described as a sort of Peruvian "pictures at an exhibition." More than postcards, the night's ensemble playing took quick journey to a more intimate, painterly space, when a series of three duets cycled through the strings to Stephanie Key's clarinet, each paired with piano played musingly by Carolyn True.-Scott Andrews
SOLI Chamber Ensemble plays its second of two autumn concerts Tuesday, November 15, 7pm, at Ruth Taylor Concert Hall, 1 Trinity Place, (210) 999-8515
Gallery Nord is at 2009 West Military Highway, (210) 348-0088, gallery nord.com.