I went to hear something I thought—mistakenly—that I knew well, and ended up being given unexpected gifts.
I went to hear Luigi Dallapiccola’s Quaderno Musicale di Annalibera (1952). Though the title commemorates the composer’s daughter, there’s nothing lightweight or sweet about it; it’s dark and introspective. There are the episodes of tenderness, but they’re cut off abruptly. It ends with a wistful Theolonius Monk solo that has the high modernist virtue of not being overly confident in what’s being expressed.
Kallay did it brilliantly, and—even better—he pared it with a different piece that had the same drama and intensity: the Impromptu for piano, synthesizer, and tape (1995) by Yves Daoust. Kallay and Genevieve Lee and the tape created a scene and populated it. The tape, the synthesizer and the piano each waxed and waned, dominated the conversation, got lost in a muddle.
In a completely different mode, Kallay started with Monroe Golden’s I'm Worried Now for retuned/remapped microtonal keyboard (2015) was mesmerizing, furious, transcendental. I simply didn’t understand what some of the sounds were, where they were coming from, or what Kallay was doing. When the tuning is not standard, questions of discord and concord go out the window. A genuine trip.