Contemporary / Post-Minimalist

The tranquil and (too) discreet music of Missy Mazzoli

by Frédéric Cardin

On Wednesday 28 February, Salle Bourgie welcomed violinist Jennifer Koh and composer and pianist (and keyboardist) Missy Mazzoli for a type of concert that is still rare in Montreal, hence the title of this article. It’s a discreet kind of music, because here in Montreal it’s still under-recognised. Yet Mazzoli is one of the most important musical creators of our time. Elsewhere in English speaking North America, she is a star. 

The programme presented in Montreal was part of a tour by the two musicians and friends celebrating fifteen years of collaboration. It featured works by Mazzoli either written for solo violin or as a duo with piano (or synthesiser keyboard). With perfect organic coherence, this programme was deployed like a great thin veil, with undulating movements that swell and deflate the sound fabric, in a stylistic whole that is quite soaring and resolutely post-minimalist.

The final result gives an imperfect idea of Mazzoli’s musical contribution to the early 21st century, for her output is far more complex and fleshed out than yesterday’s relatively monochrome programme. Listen, for example, to her superb Double Bass Concerto ‘’Dark With Excessive Bright’’, her opera Proving Up, or These Worlds in Us for orchestra, and you’ll get a better idea.

That said, this concert, full of beautiful moments of intangibility and contained spirituality, was important because it presented in Montreal a still too rare concert of what I would describe as real “music of our time”. Scholarly music that blends the need for a return to tonality with the sonic possibilities inherited from the modernist avant-garde, scholarly influences with vernacular, impressionistic and affective atmospheres with textures more akin to indie pop/rock or electro. But, because Montreal has been a strong continental hub of avant-garde post-Boulezian contemporary music, the awareness, even less the appreciation, of newer post-minimalist stuff has been slow coming.

This is not to say that this music is better than ‘traditional’ contemporary avant-garde music. Not. At. All. It’s just a paradigm shift. Traditional contemporary music, with its abrasive and abstract worlds, is in fact a tool, a way of doing things that is hyper-concentrated on intellectual formalism. The result can be works of fabulous, suprasensible beauty. New contemporary music, on the other hand, takes an infinitely more holistic (or inclusive) approach, aiming to create new worlds of sound and, above all, emotion, without denying itself any compositional tool or technique, and shunning concepts of High and Low art.

The first is fuelled by rigorous knowledge, and leads sometimes to emotions. The second is fuelled by emotions and imagination, using a large amount of knowledge that leads to transcendence.

I’d like to thank Olivier Godin, Artistic Director of Salle Bourgie, for his commitment to the development of a Montreal listening culture for this music that we can’t afford to ignore for long.

Latest 360 Content

Nadia Labrie – Flute Passion – Claude Bolling : Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio

Nadia Labrie – Flute Passion – Claude Bolling : Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio

David Jalbert – Prokofiev : Piano Sonatas vol. II

David Jalbert – Prokofiev : Piano Sonatas vol. II

HOMESHAKE – CD Wallet

HOMESHAKE – CD Wallet

Hawa B or not Hawa B ? “sadder but better” EP answers the question !

Hawa B or not Hawa B ? “sadder but better” EP answers the question !

Willows and Soleil Launière: A post-eclipse luminous evening

Willows and Soleil Launière: A post-eclipse luminous evening

Kevin Johansen – Quiero Mejor

Kevin Johansen – Quiero Mejor

Shades of Bowie, composed for the man behind Blackstar

Shades of Bowie, composed for the man behind Blackstar

Bahar Harandi’s feminist Iran

Bahar Harandi’s feminist Iran

Sunglaciers – Regular Nature

Sunglaciers – Regular Nature

Canicule – BOYZ

Canicule – BOYZ

David Jacques – 16 histoires de guitares III

David Jacques – 16 histoires de guitares III

Abel Selaocoe: the wind that blows away

Abel Selaocoe: the wind that blows away

Single of The Day – “everyday it rains” – Sea Shapes

Single of The Day – “everyday it rains” – Sea Shapes

Tolemn – Jango

Tolemn – Jango

Single of the Day – “OVEROVEROVER” – OH, BERLIN

Single of the Day – “OVEROVEROVER” – OH, BERLIN

Beyoncé – Cowboy Carter

Beyoncé – Cowboy Carter

Orkestar Kriminal – Originali

Orkestar Kriminal – Originali

Simon Denizart – Piece of Mind

Simon Denizart – Piece of Mind

Jean Jean Roosevelt – Libres ensemble

Jean Jean Roosevelt – Libres ensemble

Single of The Day – “False East” – Mr. Roswell’s Neighborhood

Single of The Day – “False East” – Mr. Roswell’s Neighborhood

Permanent Moves – Don’t Forget Us

Permanent Moves – Don’t Forget Us

Single of the Day – “The Vampire” – Tanz Akademie

Single of the Day – “The Vampire” – Tanz Akademie

Isabella D’Éloize Perron – Conquering America with Vivaldi and Piazzolla

Isabella D’Éloize Perron – Conquering America with Vivaldi and Piazzolla

Subscribe to our newsletter