The Halifax Herald: Cellist Matt Haimovitz is a loner. Musically he goes his own way.

June 6, 2010

Cellist Matt Haimovitz is a loner. Musically he goes his own way.

That is true of all the Scotia Festival of Music master artists, in a way. But Friday night, in his solo recital in The Music Room, Haimovitz  carved his path so expertly and with such unhesitating self-confidence and momentum that he could be said to have graded it, widened it, paved  it and invited the sold-out audience to roll along down its broad avenue  with him.

One look at his program was enough to raise eyebrows. Three ricercares from 17th-century composer Giovanni Gabrieli alternated with  spiky 20th- and 21st-century avant-garde contemporary works by Elliott  Carter, Canadian composer Gilles Tremblay, Luciano Berio, and the program rounded off with Bach’s Third Cello Suite in C.

After explaining that ricercare meant search, and that Gabrieli was  writing down his own improvisations, Haimovitz played the short  prelude-like pieces as freely as if he were improvising as well. Notes  rushed together to a peak or valley, while others were drawn out, and  firmly seated accents converted key notes into launching pads.

Carter’s Figment No. 1, a Haimovitz calling card, is a remarkable  piece in which every note is accounted for and interpretation marks  notated, with an expectation of literal accuracy. Yet when played like  this, the music sounded like an improvisation.

Figment

Figment

What kept it together was intervallic tension, the tendency of notes  to set up an expectation of the following note. Listening to Carter,  despite his expressed desire (according to Haimovitz) to transcend time  by destroying the pulse, was compelling. You can’t take your ear off  him.

His Bach was a masterful, unique, almost unimaginably right  performance in which, rather than maintain a steady pulse, he went with  the flow, following the dynamic curve of each passage, revealing the  architectural design of each of its six movements, echoing the  improvisational style he had so cleverly set up with the Gabrieli  earlier in the program.

Haimovitz has been a hot item with Halifax concert goes ever since  his stunning performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto with Symphony Nova  Scotia in May.

ScoFest artistic director Chris Wilcox had already booked him to play  at this year’s festival. After that concert, he asked Haimovitz to play  the Dvorak instead of a Haydn concerto on the final Concerto-Rama. That  performance takes place next Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Dunn Theatre.

by Stephen Pedersen

View article at The Chronicle Herald

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