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.
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