Classical Conversations

This past Thursday, April 7, artistic director Jennifer Montbach presented the Radius Ensemble to the Clark University community in Razzo Hall. Although it drew in a small crowd, the ambiance only complimented the intimate impression conveyed by the performers throughout the concert.

The first piece, Circling, by contemporary composer David Froom, was a contrapuntal duet that formed three different movements, or conversations between Eran Egozy’s clarinet and Sarah Brady’s flute. Each movement depicted a lyrical conversation between the two voices.

The first movement, Tete-a-Tete, consisted of uneven melodic circling that portrayed a complicated conversation between to two people who like each other but have nothing in common, finding themselves in a cycle that leads them back to where they started. In the second movement, titled Pas De Deux, the two voices alternate support for each other,  joining together like a dance between two people. The third and final movement in the piece, Duettino, consisted of the doubling and breaking apart of the two voices, alternating between them and a third aggregate voice.

For the next piece, Radius performers Gabriella Diaz (violin), Amelia Hollander Ames (viola), and Miriam Bolkosly (cello) performed Beethoven’s Serenade in D Major, Op. 8. Bolkosly explained before the piece that it was more or less a joke that was “funny the first time, but then is told again and again and again,” essentially beating the thematic elements and certain movements of the piece into the ground. Beethoven was known for his somewhat feral personality, and lesser for his sense of humor.

A brief intermission ensued, followed by a contemporary violin solo, Signs, Games, and Messages, performed by Diaz. This piece was written by composer Gyorgy Kurtag, consisting of fragmented movements. It was merely a minute of intense expression, communicated through the musicality and posture of the violinist. Kurtag wrote this piece in a particularly tumultuous stage in his life, and it is certainly palpable through all eight movements.

For the final piece of the evening, the ensemble performed a sextet written by Francis Poulenc. Brady and Egozy were joined by Jensen Ling on bassoon, Anne Howarth on horn, Sarah Bob at the piano, and Montbach on oboe. Poulenc’s piece was a perfect finale for the program, with its various stylistic components. The movements included smooth, angelic melodies from the oboe, and well as heavy, unsettling piano parts. Poulenc was part of a music society that allowed him to collaborate with musicians from wide-ranging backgrounds, as well as giving him agency to write diverse pieces of music.

Radius strives to shape heterogeneous programs that offer a brilliant convergence of classic and contemporary pieces. A winner of the CMA/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, the nine-member ensemble continues to spread its influence in the Boston community through their outreach programs. Radius makes a sweeping effort in the community to involve as many people in their music as possible. They host shows every Sunday in Harvard Square, as well as raffling off concert tickets to music-lovers with limited means, making a positive and prolific impact in the community.