Shake rattle and stomp

Posted on Monday, November 3, 2008

Dawn Upshaw and members of Ensemble ACJW yesterday

Some colorful reviews of yesterday's concert at Carnegie's Zankel hall, which was a riot, and a wonderful celebration of Dawn Upshaw's incredible range and versitility. The performance of Piosenki was spectacular all-round, Evan Hughes joined Dawn and ensemble ACJW, with the wonderful Steve Prutsman conducting. But the lagerphone also rightfully received plenty of the attention:

David Bruce incorporates his lagerphone into the final section of his vivacious song cycle “Piosenki” (in Polish, popular songs), which concluded the program and was its highlight.

Mr. Bruce’s lagerphone, a percussion instrument in the shape of a long stick, is covered with bottle tops (hence the “lager”) and other metal noisemakers and decorated with colorful streamers. When pounded on the floor, it produces a jingly sound akin to a tambourine’s but louder. The rest of the colorful score evokes Polish folk music and Slavic wedding bands with klezmer clarinet tunes, zesty piccolo riffs, syncopated rhythms and energetic fiddling. The audience laughed at the musical flatulence of “Smelly,” the fourth verse.

Vivien Schweitzer, NY Times

In the final Polish song of this ecstatic recital ... bass-baritone Evan Hughes picked up a four-foot-long thick stick decorated with bells, and stomped it repeatedly on the floor or dangled it with the bells jingling. And as he and Dawn Upshaw sung, the untranslatable words (Trumf, Trumf! Misia Bela!!) and the entire chamber orchestra wailed and trilled and the klezmer clarinet warbled and the drums drummed, not only this scrivener but everybody in the packed Zankel Auditorium wanted to thump and jingle along with Mr. Hughes and the now foot-stamping orchestra.

Harry Rolnick,



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