Another day at the Savannah Music Festival, another marvelous chamber music recital at the Trinity United Methodist Church. This time, it was Chamber Music IV: Early Masters, which featured the usual troupe of masterful musicians assembled by Daniel Hope, plus a couple of guest stars, performing works drawn from the early stages of the careers of four major composers.
Englishman Simon Crawford-Phillips was at the keyboard for Robert Schumann’s Piano Quartet in C Minor joined by Hope (violin), Carla Maria Rodrigues (viola), and Eric Kim (cello). What the work, which was written in 1829 when the German composer was 19 years old, lacks in seasoned creativity and technical mastery (“botched” is how Schumann, always his own worst critic, reportedly described it) is compensated by a pervasive sense of willful experimentation and playful exuberance. Drawing every potential ounce of goodness from the work’s four movements, Hope and friends made the C minor quartet the highlight of Thursday’s program, which also included works by 19-year-old Franz Schubert, 27-year-old Alexander Borodin and 15-year-old Felix Mendelssohn.
Next up, Lisa Love and I headed over to the Lucas Theater where Kodo, the Japanese drumming and dancing collective, was performing the “One Earth Tour: Mystery.” Within the first few minutes, the audience was transported into an alternate dimension defined by imaginative choreography, creative costuming, and, above all, the spectacle of the disciplined young taiko drummers moving with athletic grace and dramatic expression, pounding on beautifully crafted and, in some cases, enormously sized percussion instruments.
A half-dozen or so separate scenes comprised the performance, each with its own symbolic narrative and rhythmic accompaniment. Some of the scenes were inhabited by shaggy-haired monsters and brightly colored dragons; some evoked courtly rituals; others would have given your favorite marching band a run for their money. Kodo’s artistic director Tamasaburo Bando has said that, in staging the One Earth tour, he was striving to evoke the aura of mystery and displacement, which one sometimes feels when visiting a temple or shrine, or venturing into the forest.
Mysteries aside, certainly the audience at the Lucas Theater found itself immersed in a viscerally powerful collective experience, which shook everyone to their diaphragms. (Thursday March 26 Entry – DD)
Each day of the 17-day Savannah Music Festival, music journalist Doug DeLoach shares reviews, recommendations and musings on his adventures in Savannah. Read all of his daily dispatches here.
Performances Today, Friday, March 27:
8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Swing Central Jazz: The Competition – Lucas Theatre for the Arts
12:30 p.m. – Sean Jones Quartet – Charles H. Morris Center
6:00 p.m. – Recitals III Stephen Hough, Piano – Trinity United Methodist Church
7:00 p.m. – The Louis Armstrong Continuum/Swing Central Jazz Finale – Lucas Theatre for the Arts
8:00 p.m.. – Lúnasa – Ships of the Sea North Garden
8:30 p.m. – Lucinda Williams – Trustees Theatre
10:00 p.m. – Late Night Jam with Sean Jones Quartet featuring Wycliffe Gordon & Friends – Charles H. Morris Center
About the Savannah Music Festival
The historic district of downtown Savannah plays host to more than 100 performances during the annual Savannah Music Festival (SMF), which celebrates exceptional artistry in jazz, classical and a variety of American and international musical traditions. Now through April 4, more than 100 programs will be staged in SMF’s most international festival to date. A full schedule and tickets are available at savannahmusicfestival.org. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 912-525-5050 or at 216 E. Broughton Street in Savannah. For information on lodging, attractions, places to eat and tours, check out VisitSavannah.org.