• Carla Magnan
  • 23 Agosto 2016

MARGINI UNO, a short essay in abstract eclecticism

For its opening concert, the festival offered a pleasant sweep through the last two centuries, with Beethoven’s youthful Trio for clarinet, cello and piano (Op. 11) and Brahms’ late Quintet No. 2 (Op. 111) flanking “Margini Uno,” a short essay in abstract eclecticism, composed in 2010 by Carla Magnan, the Italian composer who won the festival’s 2016 Composers Competition.

There was a bonus, as well. Because Magnan’s work, a piano quartet, is based on elements borrowed from a Chopin Mazurka (Op. 6, No. 3), pianist Diane Walsh gave the Mazurka a suitably jaunty reading as an introduction to Magnan’s score.

As it turned out, Magnan hid her Chopin appropriations amid the work’s briskly shifting string and keyboard textures so well that if Walsh had not played the original, the echoes of Chopin’s rhythms and theme shapes might have gone unnoticed. That’s probably as it should be. In any case, Walsh, with violinist Sunghae Anna Lim, violist Christine Grossman and cellist Trevor Handy, played the music on its own terms, focusing on the lively interplay and ear-catching effects that drive Magnan’s piece, rather than its roots in Chopin. 

by Allan Kozinn (former music critic and culture writer for The New York Times who lives in Portland)

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