|Daniel Barenboim and Ara Guzelimian|
The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) at Columbia University and The Cogut Center for the Humanities (CCH) at Brown University sponsored the talk, "Remembering Edward W. Said: A Conversation with Daniel Barenboim and Ara Guzelimian," as well as the subsequent performance by selected members of the Seville-based West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Both took place at Columbia's Miller Theater. I hadn't realized it, but this was but the first event in larger program, running throughout 2013 at Columbia, that will commemorate Edward W. Said on the 10th anniversary of his passing. I looked online and cannot find the other events, but I expect they will be posted at some point down the road.
Its skill was on display in particular in three of the pieces it performed that night: Pierre Boulez's Mémoriale and Messagesquisse, the latter a favorite of mine and so expertly rendered I wish I had been able to record it (verboten, naturally) and post it here. The soloist, Hassan Mataz El Molla, was particularly adroit in leading and playing his violoncello off against the sextet of violoncellos producing the sonorous buzzing background Boulez devises. Between the two Boulez pieces came an original composition by K. Azmeh, who performed the clarinet solo entitled Prayer, a tribute to Edward Said. Though it possessed some pretty moments, it felt a bit underdeveloped and overshadowed by the virtuosic Boulez pieces. I also couldn't help but think of Douglas Ewart's more successful and dazzling compositions, expertly performed on a range of woodwinds, that I used to catch at Chicago's Velvet Lounge.
Last on the bill Franz Schubert's Piano Quintet in A major D.667, "The Trout." Both Barenboim and his son Michael performed in the latter piece, and I must say that while at the end of the piece I felt as I had heard an animated sewing machine, as I often do when I listen to Schubert's music, I also thought he accompanists in particular were sharp, summing with panache piece's playfulness as well as its darker notes. Barenboim's rhythm seemed a little off at first, but by the middle of the piece he was in sync, and brought the quintet to a powerful close.
|L-R: Daniel Barenboim, Yosef Abraham, Nassib|
Ahmadieh, Julia Deneyka, and Michael Barenboim