Monday, December 11, 2017

BALI (SMCQ) Clanging that went on too long

Four works featuring the music of Bali putting Jose Evangelista into new territory as a composer in the Asian mode was on the program this December 7th evening.

The concert was prefaced with a far too-long explanation of the Gamelon (orchestra) by Pierre Paré-Blais who also plays the instruments that we saw on stage at Montreal’s Pierre Péladeau Centre. He said the music is based on a single melody flushed by the other clanging instruments that seem to swirl around it faster and faster. Lovely bright red and gold instruments glittered the stage -- strange looking musical percussive instruments ranging from gong keybar to martenot – the latter sounding like a Wurlitzer and synchronizer. An interesting instrument that should be heard far more than it is.

Although the musicians were impeccable in timing and speed, after a while the pieces sounded like a collective clanging cacophony that sadly was not as colourful as the appearance of the instruments themselves. The one musician who held our attention with his passionate playing of  a drum-like instrument was I Dewa Made Suparta. He is director of the entire orchestra.

The performance needed costumes and showmanship. The three dancers save, for one who looked like a lost misfit towering awkwardly over the others who were Asian -- did not help this dance ensemble in look; nor did this trio inspire us, but the two other dancers would have -- without the gawky one. She looked about as Balinese as a giraffe trying to hide among cats. I did not feel transported to Bali during this concert. Though it was lackluster, the instrument playing was expert indeed.

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