Bargemusic keeps reinventing itself with new programs

There is usually a moment early in any concert at Bargemusic when even listeners who have spent many evenings hearing music in this converted coffee barge find themselves wondering why they couldn’t have found something to do on dry land. The barge, moored on the Brooklyn side of the East River — near the River Café and a stone’s throw from the Brooklyn Bridge — is a boat, after all, and it is given to the gentle rocking motion that mariners love and landlubbers can find mildly disconcerting.

But part of the magic of Bargemusic is that you quickly forget about the motion. When you take your seat, you face a stage set before a large window that offers a spectacular view: the river, with its varied traffic, and the looming cityscape of Lower Manhattan. The performances, by an expansive roster of regulars, as well as visiting ensembles and soloists, are typically so involving that they eclipse even the view.

Lately the programming has been increasingly inventive, as Mark Peskanov, the violinist who has been Bargemusic’s president and executive and artistic director since 2006, has added a new-music series (Here and Now), an early-music series (There and Then) and jazz concerts to the diet of standard repertory solo and chamber works that has been Bargemusic’s main fare. All told, the barge presents about 220 concerts year round.

Read the full article in The New York Times here.

Microtonal Fluctuation in Moods of All Colors

There was microtonal mayhem at Bargemusic on Friday night during the adventurous Flux Quartet’s performance in the Here and Now series.

The concert opened with Annie Gosfield’s dramatic “Lighthearted and Heavyhearted,” the most effective work on the program. Written in 2002, during a period in which Ms. Gosfield suffered from vertigo, her score incorporates microtones, glissandos and slashing gestures, shifting between somber and raucous moods. Intense, fiery sections alternate with moments of haunting solitude, all vividly illuminated by the ensemble, which performed with commitment throughout the evening.

Max Mandel, Flux’s violist, spoke briefly about Giacinto Scelsi’s String Quartet No. 5. (The other members of Flux are Tom Chiu and Conrad Harris, violinists; and Felix Fan, cellist.)

Scelsi (an Italian count who died in 1988) suffered a mental breakdown, after which he would play the same note on the piano repeatedly throughout the day. Much of his music uses only one pitch, and his abrasively tedious Fifth Quartet centers on F. Notes held over long periods are shaded with microtonal fluctuations and abruptly interrupted by staccato segments.

Read the full article in The New York Times here.