Somehow, percussion is my most favorite type of contemporary classical music. I have been exposed to plenty of percussion music back when I was still a student in Buffalo, as the Music Department in that university had percussion as one of its strengths. So when I saw that Trio K/D/M was playing in the Berlin Philharmonie a few months ago, I opted to buy myself a ticket.
Funny, when I bought the tickets online, I saw that there were still plenty of available seats. In fact, I was able to get a seat right at the front row, dead center! I guess people don't like contemporary music that much. Oh well, that just means there's more for me. I guess since most of the patrons of classical music tend to be old, which correlates to being conservative, then they aren't the most ideal audience for contemporary classical music, which at times is less about aesthetics and more about the mathematics of music. And sure enough, the program that night featured plenty of mathematical components, and yes, there were people who were there during the first half, and then later opted to leave during the Intermission, such as the guy sitting next to me.
Anyway, they had a very interesting program that night. They played seven pieces altogether. Four of those pieces were written specifically for Trio K/D/M. Two of the composers were actually present in the audience. One piece was premiered that night, and an additional two were performed for the first time in Germany. The oldest piece was composed in 1978, while the youngest piece was just finished earlier this year. Overall, it was a very contemporary program.
Trio K/D/M was first formed by three musicians. Gilles Durot and Bachar Khalife are two percussionists, and together with Anthony Millet who is an accordionist, they are the founding members of the trio. Now, the trio is composed of Durot and Millet together with Victor Hanna. They originate from France, and most of the pieces in the program were also composed by French composers. And yes, the moderator that evening was Holger Hettinger, who also spoke pretty good French. The whole concert was recorded to be play on the radio at a later date.
Anyway, they started with Stele by Gerard Grisey (who happens to be the only composer for that evening who isn't alive anymore), which was written for two bass drums. The two drums were positioned across each other at the stage, and that piece made me realize that there are just so many things one can do with bass drums. One of the bass drums was equipped with a collar of little balls tied together with a string, which bounced as one rolls the drum. It was very creative.
One other piece that I was fascinated the most was Laterna Magica by Regis Campo, written for solo accordion. This piece makes the accordion sound very atypical, and requires the performer to play non-traditional movements and methods with the instrument. It was definitely captivating.
I also loved the piece entitled Kammer Deutsche Melodien by Sylvain Kassap. This piece was premiered that night, and involved a variety of other instruments, showing how colorful a percussion ensemble can be. And finally, the most interesting piece I think was Le Corps a Corps, by Georges Aperghis, for solo zarb and voice. This is subtitled as a "musical theatre for a percussionist and his zarb". It was part rap, part theatre, part music. It was quite memorable because it used the voice as a percussive instrument.
Overall, it was a wonderful evening, and I definitely enjoyed it. It's not your typical classical music performance, but I guess that is what I like about it.