The inaugural concert of the American Music Project, which took place Sunday afternoon at Ganz Hall, has garnered positive reviews from the critics in attendance (see below).
A big thank you to Amy Wurtz, whose epic Piano Quintet made such a powerful impact in its world premiere, and the Chicago Q Ensemble (Ellen McSweeney, Aimee Biasiello and Sara Sitzer), violinist Sharon Chang and Amy for providing such committed advocacy for the quintet, as well as the Irving Fine Fantasia and David Diamond’s String Quartet No. 2.
Also special thanks to Rick Boyum and Susan Stokdyk for volunteering their time to make the event a success, and Melissa Morrison at Roosevelt University for helping Sunday’s concert to come off without a hitch.
Amy Wurtz Piano Quintet
American Music Project commission
World premiere October 5, 2015
“Tonally and lyrically oriented, Wurtz writes with a confident command of craft—she develops [her] musical ideas in ear-catching ways that test the technical chops of her players.”
“The group’s able young musicians, augmented by violinist Sharon Chang and the composer on piano, argued the quintet’s merits impressively.”
John von Rhein
Chicago Tribune, October 8, 2014
“A leviathan of a piece with no shortage of erudite writing.”
“Wurtz’s craft remained evident across the expansive, five-movement work, as with the breathtaking Grave, in which cello snap-pizzicati evaporate into translucent violin harmonics while massive piano octaves drop like pre-historic monoliths.”
“The Scherzo that follows whirls into existence with fleet scales passed between voices before a series of duets ushers in an Americana-themed passage, satisfyingly constructed of open intervals and exuberant playing on the part of the quintet. A wistful Fugue is here indicative of Wurtz’s economy of writing as well as her skill in developing out this material, and the final Andante movement, has the composer’s abilities in writing idiomatically and virtuosically for strings on full display. Balance issues aside, the premiere offered many arousing moments, such as the swashbuckling theme near the conclusion of the piece, played with compelling verve by violist Biasiello, as well as a gripping second movement cello solo from Sara Sitzer.”
“As so many larger institutions across the country continue to lean toward safe and greatest-hits-style programming in a misguided attempt to fill seats, concerts that challenge listeners to consider pieces outside of familiar territory are increasingly necessary, and I for one am eager to hear what the American Music Project serves up next.”
Irving Fine Fantasia for String Trio
“The [Chicago Q Ensemble] trio here displayed some of the finest playing of the afternoon, caressing every corner of the room with a lustrous, expertly-balanced tone.”
Chicago Classical Review, October 6, 2014