CONTEMPO ENSEMBLES TAKE ON RIGORS OF NEW EUROPEAN MUSIC

CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Pacifica performing for Contempo

By John Von Rhein

It's been a rewarding couple of days for local followers of new and relatively new Polish music.

At Chicago Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts this week and last, audiences were reminded of Witold Lutoslawski's CSO-commissioned Third Symphony ranking as one of the landmark orchestral scores of the late 20th century.

Monday night in the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts' Performance Hall at the University of Chicago, two of Poland's most prominent composer-performers, vocalist Agata Zubel and double bassist Tadeusz Wielecki, were the focus of a Contempo series exploration of their music and that of other European composers.

Polish-born composer and U. of C. music professor Marta Ptaszynska, the series' new artistic director and curator of Monday's program, included a piece of her own in the mix, which leapt across European borders to present scores by the late Russian avant-gardist Alfred Schnittke and the late French composer Christophe Bertrand. Members of the university-resident ensemble eighth blackbird did most of the heavy lifting, performance-wise, with the Pacifica Quartet anchoring the opening and closing portions of the concert.

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