Review of ‘Record of Ancient Mirrors’ at the MATA Festival

The audience returned from intermission to a stage crowded with violins, viola, accordion, double bass, cello, violin de gamba, 2 gongs, triangle, alto sax, trombones, and French horn. Out of the hodgepodge arose a stunning piece of rich humanity and earthen transcendence, inspired by the Zen concept of reflection on water and Kristina Wolfe’s experience on the Camino de Santiago. Record of Ancient Mirrors (2017), a MATA commission, traced a clear dramatic arc but used the violin de gamba to build myth and flex time. Timbres fluttered in and out. Gong overtones painted the space. Strings overlapped bowing speeds and techniques; at one point the violins, sounding like birds, were so resonant it seemed an amplified recording had joined the texture. The violin de gamba bubbled to the surface in a folksy tune; after a resonant unison silence, the gamba opened the second section whirling through its most extreme registers. Doug Balliett played with grit and modernity, almost like electric cello, before the ensemble flooded back. Brass brought valiance and an anchored sense of tradition hovered in faint tonality. The piece evolved into silence through unpitched sounds and awareness of breath.

Read the review of the whole concert here

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