Critical Reviews



Dorsa did an all-contemporary program of works in maximalist style, which mean prolonged wild dissonances in clusters that ranged all over the keyboard in works by Chan Ka Nin, Naji Hakim, Gyorgy Ligeti, and the performer himself. Influences of rock and roll were felt in several works (Ligeti’s was “Hungarian Rock”); there were rumbling arpeggios, massive clusters in the lower register (the instrument stood up to these manfully), cymbalum-like tremolo effects, pounding ostinato—you get the idea. In remarks from the stage, the performer spoke of the music reproducing the sound of the modern era.


Following the intermission came the world premiere of James Dorsa’s Melting Away to Nothing(2008), based on texts by last year’s poet laureate, Charles Simic – and strange and sometimes troubling poems they are, too. The first line of the first poem is “The soul is a ghost ship set adrift on the seas of eternity”; of the second, “Little candy in death’s candy store”’ and the title of the fourth is “Death’s Book of Jokes.” Some of the songs are somber, some wry, and Jensen and Funaro infused them with life. Miracle of miracles, here’s a “new” work one longs to hear again, and soon. It received a warm reception, too.