Tanglewood’s FCM on Monday

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On Monday, July 21st at 8 PM, the last concert of Tanglewood’s 2014 Festival of Contemporary Music is a well-stocked program of orchestral works. The centerpiece is Roger Sessions’s Concerto for Orchestra, a work commissioned by the BSO thirty years ago. Steven Mackey’s violin concerto Beautiful Passing will feature as soloist Sarah Silver, one of Tanglewood’s New Fromm Players. Music by John Adams has not in recent memory frequently been featured on FCM programs, but this year his Slonimsky’s Earbox makes an appearance. The sole work by a younger composer, The Sound of Stillness by Charlotte Bray, piqued my interest – it is an impressive piece. (Check out a video about it here.) Thus, this year’s FCM ends the way that many of its seasons are curated: with nods to tradition as well as explorations of new, unfamiliar, and underrepresented corners of contemporary repertoire.

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden: “Last Dance”

Last week we were saddened to learn of the loss of jazz musician Charlie Haden. Haden was a bassist with a profound melodic gift as well as a strong sense of how to ground even the most labyrinthine chord changes.

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It is bittersweet at this time to consider his valedictory album for ECM, Last Dance, a duo outing with pianist Keith Jarrett, particularly tunes such as “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and “Goodbye,” which close out the album. The CD’s material is culled from the same sessions that yielded 2010’s Jasmine. Recorded at Jarrett’s home studio, it is an intimate and imaginative excursion through nine standards. One is impressed by the seamless interplay between these two seasoned musicians. It is almost as if they are able to finish each others’ sentences, musically speaking, without ever giving one the feeling that someone is being interrupted. Jarrett’s solo work is incandescent, but he also gives Haden plenty of room for solo turns of his own, on which the bassist brings that aforementioned gift for melody to bear most lyrically.

Haden collaborated memorably with many fine musicians, and will be sorely missed, leaving a gaping hole on the bottom end of jazz’s compass. Fortunately, recordings like Last Dance will allow us to continue to savor and evaluate his important legacy.