Ear Supply: Shock of the New/Old

An "aerial" premiere at a summer festival.

"I had a vision for an 'aerial' work," says composer Gary Kulesha of his Piano Quartet the Seattle Chamber Music Society is premiering on Friday; "I wanted the work to soar." To make it do so, Kulesha cast his Quartet in the standard four movements, just like the Debussy and Dvorak works which sandwich it on the program: an opening sonata-allegro, a slow "Meditation," a triple-time scherzo, and a rondo finale. But within this sturdy frame, Kulesha embedded musical ideas and devices from all over the spectrum: microtones, tone clusters, jazz-flavored seventh chords, and "dense polyphony, diatonic melodies, simple eight-bar phrases, [and] melody-with-accompaniment texture." This approach was born of Kulesha's coming-of-musical-age in a contentious time. He includes devices "that we were all taught to avoid like the plague when we were students in the 1960s," he says. "I believe that, in the 21st century, 'modern' means the ability to choose clarity and simplicity, as well as complexity and angularity, if the expressive situation warrants it." During Friday's preconcert recital at 7 p.m., Kulesha and the four musicians—Amy Schwartz Moretti, violin; Marcus Thompson, viola; the Seattle Symphony's Efe Baltacigil, cello; Orion Weiss, piano—will talk us through a preview of the work. The premiere will be the centerpiece of the 8 p.m. concert. 

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