Friday, August 29, 2014


Chatter is an odd name for a chamber orchestra, but there you are. Perhaps in Albuquerque this is not odd. They used to be called the Church of Beethoven, but did not wish to be called "The ensemble that used to be called the Church of Beethoven" when they lost rights to the name.

Chatter gave a concert in the Albuquerque Art Museum last night in the same space as a Christo exhibit. When I was in New York for The Gates, I loved it, but Christo as just photographs and drawings is less than spectacular. Maybe it's for nostalgia. It turned out to be an excellent performance space: no echo, easy to hear, not too loud. Even the synthesizer wasn't too loud.

A synthesizer in Mahler 4? We heard it in an arrangement for chamber ensemble done in 2007 by Klaus Simon. This was in turn based on a similar arrangement by Arnold Schoenberg which undoubtedly did not include synthesizer. This arrangement seriously reduces the strings and winds to one player per section. I sat behind the piano and synthesizer.

It was lovely but different. Mahler loves to make interesting sounds with combinations of winds and percussion. The interesting sounds were still there, but the much smaller string section moved the sound ideal from late Romantic closer to the sound ideal of Schoenberg. Transparency of texture is a feature of this style. Synthesizer fills in some of the thinning of texture when it becomes excessive but the wind players predominate. The soprano was Hannah Stephens. I enjoyed the whole performance.

The program notes seemed to be taken as is from Wikipedia, except when they were explaining that Mahler was forbidden by the Nazis, they left out that this was because Mahler was Jewish. It can't have been for anything about the music.

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