Dynamic Duo brings eclectic act to campus
November 23, 2009 —
International touring group Duo Diorama added to the Rhea Miller Concert Series legend Saturday, as they performed an outstanding concert of contemporary music.
Duo Diorama, a husband-wife duet, consists of Chinese violinist MingHuan Xu and Canadian pianist Winston Choi.
The two-set concert featured an eclectic mix of music styles, ranging from standard classical repertoire to the avant-garde.
A highlight of the evening was the group’s second piece, “Violin Sonata No. 3.”
William Bolcom, who is music department faculty at the University of Michigan, composed this piece and was in attendance for Duo Diorama’s performance in Ann Arbor on Friday.
“Violin Sonata No. 2” began with the first movement, “Summer Dreams.” The piece was inspired by the silky smooth sounds of jazz and blues piano with the violin playing very long sustaining notes, that were sometimes dissonant, over the chord progressions.
The piece then went into the second movement, “Brutal Fast.” This movement lived up to its name with abrupt start-stop sections in the music, reminiscent of an argument that a husband and wife would have with everything ending up all right in the end.
Then came “The Adagio,” which was slow and rhapsodic, free and cadenza-like. At times it felt as if the suspended arpeggios played on the piano were searching for an identity while the violin made grand statements covering the entire neck of the instrument.
The fourth and final movement of the piece, “In Memory of Joe Venuti,” served as a memorial to the famous jazz violinist known for his ‘hot’ violin solos on commercial dance recordings during the 1920s and ‘30s. During this time, Venuti also assumed the responsibility of creating 12- or 24-bar solos toward stock dance arrangements to spice it up a bit.
Computer Science chair Dr. Il-Hyung Cho said the music was interesting, but wished the piano had more presence in the recital hall.
Duo Diorama has toured extensively in Europe and in North and South America. During their touring career, they have played over 20 works by living composers.
“Tonight’s concert was incredible,” said music education Junior Wes Graham. “The great thing about the Rhea Miller concert series is you get to see some amazing musical talent and it is free.”