It's always a treat to encounter a work by the amazing Hungarian composer György Kurtág, who, at 85, is still chugging along, one of the last living links to his teachers Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud. Although these seminal 20th-century composers were, along with Bartók and Webern, important influences, Kurtág's work is all his own, an intriguing blend of terseness, lyricism, surprise and wit. This week Monday Evening Concerts treats us to the U.S. premiere of Kurtág's quirky, multidimensional song cycle Pas à pas nulle part (1993-98), for baritone, string trio and percussion, Op. 36. Based on Samuel Beckett's poem "Step by step … nowhere," the work has been described as being "as immediate, as poignant and as funny as a Beckett play." But it also refers to John Cage, both in his famed comment during a lecture, "More and more I have the feeling we are going nowhere," and his music that seems to float in space, resonant in its deceptive disconnection. Appropriately, the program also features Cage's Seven and the frantically edgy viola solo Trema, by Heinz Holliger,another Beckett fan. The performers include violinist Movses Pogossian and bass-baritone Nicholas Isherwood, who worked closely with Kurtág; violist Stephanie Griffin; cellist Karen Ouzounian; percussionist Jonathan Hepfer; flutist Alice Teyssier;clarinetist Brian Walsh; and pianist Vicki Ray.Colburn School of Performing Arts, Zipper Concert Hall, 200 S. Grand St., dwntwn.; Mon., Dec. 5, 8 p.m.; $27. (213) 260-1632, mondayeveningconcerts.org.
Mon., Dec. 5, 8 p.m., 2011