Composer Stephen Montague's music has been described as "romantic minimalism." This American composer gave a lecture to a small, enthusiastic audience Monday night at Strathmore Hall Arts Center; afterward, British pianist Philip Mead performed four of Montague's compositions.
Montague said his music was "an outgrowth of minimalism, if not minimalistic itself." He characteristically uses a few notes spread over ald,10 period of time, with variations and rhythm and timbre as a point of departure.
Mead is among the best interpreters of 20th-century piano music, a technical wizard who is emotionally and intellectually committed to expressing and illuminating the composer's ideas. "Strummin,' " for piano strings, light and electronic tape, was aptly titled. Mead quietly strummed and plucked the piano's strings, which amplified and reverberated on tape to a roaring electronic crescendo. "Quintet" featured a prerecorded tape of four separate interpretations of Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor, giving the effect of a super instrument of hundreds of tonal colors as Mead played.
The audience, humming a B-flat drone, was the chorus for "Paramell III" for solo piano and chorus. "Paramell V" consisted of repetitive figures played very loudly, at times straddling the line between noise and music.
A discussion session with the composer, pianist and audience followed the recital of short works.