Zodiac Trio

January 31, 2011, Seully Hall, Boston, MA

The Boston New Music Project has again summoned the Zodiac Trio from Paris to perform works it commissioned by Berklee and Boston Conservatory faculty and to showcase new works by the school’s promising students. The Zodiac Trio — Vanessa Mollard, violin, Kilment Krylovskiy, clarinet, Riko Higuma, piano — are a very polished and keen contemporary ensemble with an impressive list of credits and well-earned accolades. Their audience at Seully Hall on January 31 enjoyed world premieres of pieces written especially for the Zodiac Trio by BC’s Andy Vores (Fabrication 17: Stunt) and Berklee’s Andrew List (Visions From The Aboriginal Dreamtime) and two other modernist classics.

List’s Visions re-imagines creation legends of the cosmos in four linked movements, from protozoic miasma through the songlines to dances of unbridled frenzy: I. Introduction (In the beginning the world was featureless, flat and grey“); II. The Dreamtime (Giant mythical beings rose up out of the grey plains where they had been slumbering for countless ages“); III. Love Is a Gift From the Dreamtime (The mythical beings create universal love“); IV. Corroboree (“Spirits from the Dreamtime show the people how to live“).

A sotto voce prelude leads to high violin harmonics, signaling a gentle dawn; then oscillating lines lead to an acerbic 2/4 of martial drama and sudden conflict, with subtle references to Stravinsky and Bartók. A bucolic legato 4/4 (violin and clarinet) signals the love theme; a dulcet clarinet melody rides over piano triplets and soars with violin alone before the piano returns with neoclassical underpinnings. A hard 4/4 piano ostinato (with added sforzando final beats) brings forth playfully rumbling dance figures, with linear echoes of Eastern Europe. A rolling clarinet figure, picked up by piano and violin, carries the piece to a bold, satisfying conclusion. List’s serene celebration of “the oneness of all living beings.” like that of the Aborigines, aims at preserving ancestral heritage, in this case by revisiting honored traditions within European classical music.