NDSU Spectrum: Haimovitz, O’Riley Swirl Centuries of Music at MSUM

shuffle1 credit Sarah Scott
September 25, 2013

There is so much more to a cello than meets the eye. Anyone considering this stringed instrument may stereotype it as low and slow, but cellist Matt Haimovitz proved its power in his recent collaborative concert with classical pianist/NPR host ChristopherO’Riley at Minnesota State University Moorhead’s Gaede Stage on Sept. 19.

As one of the world’s top contemporary cellists, Haimovitz’s pairing with the incomparable O’Riley made for a diverse range of sounds in their “Shuffle. Play. Listen.” concert that drew from centuries of music. Concertos, rock, special arrangements and more were all part of the pair’s repertoire.



While Haimovitz and O’Riley’s first set was immensely enjoyable and pleasing to the ear, their second set was—to put it bluntly—more fun. Seven pieces comprised the latter half of their performance, two of which were Arcade Fire renditions; “Empty Room” and “In the Backseat,” the latter of which was presented as the pair’s encore.

Stravinsky, Bernard Herrmann, Radiohead and more were included in the pair’s roundup of the centuries. Such an eclectic set list made for a livelier experience than if the audience would have been subjected to two hours of the music of only Bach or only the music of John McLaughlin. Albeit, that is not a bad thing, and certainly such a concert would have been marvelous in the hands of Haimovitz and O’Riley.

It was their stylistic flair and sheer musicianship that made the night’s diverse sounds flow seamlessly, as if the music could have been from any time. Haimovitz was as entertaining to watch as he was to hear; his hair whipping back and forth as he rocked around on his chair, issuing a myriad of sounds from his 300-year-old cello.

O’Riley flashed his fingers across his piano, flourishing his hands dramatically at the conclusion of each piece. Together, the two were absolutely in their element as masters of their respective instruments.

Stage banter was nonexistent, although the two did speak directly to their audiences following every other piece.Haimovitz remarked that he had “stolen” some of copies of Angel Heart, a collaborative album amongst him and other musicians and artists such as Jeremy Irons and the Auckland Children’s Choir. Attendees at the concert were the first audience to have access to the new album, out later this month.

Following, the concert, a meet-and-greet was held in the lobby of the Gaede Stage where Haimovitz and O’Rileysigned albums and interacted with their audience members. Their collaborative concert was preceded by two separate appearances earlier in the day: Haimovitz giving a flash performance at the Hotel Donaldson, and O’Riley holding a piano master class at the Gaede Stage.

Together, the combined talents of Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley made collaboration like none other. Yes, anyone can play cello and piano together, but no one can do it with the style and skills seen in “Shuffle. Play. Listen.”

By: Jack Dura

Read at: NDSU Spectrum

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