by Greg Cutler, Published: 2010-12-06
Four musicians took the stage; The Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet is Wayne Horvitz – piano, Peggy Lee – cello, Sara Schoenbeck – bassoon, and Ron Miles – muted trumpet. Peggy and Wayne sat on the left side of the stage with Ron and Sara to the right side. Strings on the left, woodwinds and brass on the right. It’s no accident that they sit in this formation.
The Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet plays music that is not so much an exercise in exploring each one’s individual talents as a musician, but rather in creating soft soundtracks to each audience members’ own thoughts and memories; lullabies that sway us into sharply focused internal visual and auditory experiences.
The quartet slides easily into a shifting, swaying melody that brings to mind trips across the country in an old convertible with the crisp, fall wind blowing through your hair. Your friends sit with you in the car. Leaves blow in the trees, coming loose to float to the swishing grass on the side of the road. Clouds float across the sky.
Move on to a halting, atonal, creeping, stuttering exploration of an old deserted house on the edge of a field. Doors squeak. Every turn reveals more emptiness. Melancholy ensues.
Resonating meditations with alternating blips from the cello soothe the listener into a trance, with just enough variation to keep your mind from wandering. The musicians coax the tiniest possible noises out of their instruments. Enchanting!
A rhythmic waltz of piano and cello maintain the slow, deliberate goings on of Berlin in the early 20th century with solos from cello, bassoon, and trumpet each floating above the steady melody.
A hare emerges from her hole. An egret hunts a fish. A loon calls from afar. A mouse scurries down his tunneling path in the reeds. A duck slips into the water. The marsh comes to life. Each instrument takes on the persona of a different animal scurrying about in the marsh doing his or her own thing, but somehow creating an entirely unified illustration. Every now and then the animals come together paw in paw, spin and go their separate ways. They come together in the end to do a coordinated dance.
These are my interpretations of the music performed on the night of Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at the REDCAT, Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater. It was the perfect venue for this great performance!