Cultured Cleveland review

A very thoughtful review by Frank Kuznik of my April 1 solo concert at Cleveland’s Transformer Station was apparently not archived on Cultured Cleveland‘s website, so I am posting the full text below. While I feel well-appreciated by this reviewer, I should say that, given the many styles of composing and expression these days, I think there is new music that can be, and has been, described as stylish and/or charming. But it is true that some of the music I play is not usually perceived or played that way. Another great review of the same concert is here on Cleveland Classical.

“Violinist Miranda Cuckson plays a lot like she looks – smart and stylish, with a beguiling charm. These are not terms one normally uses to describe modern music. Especially the kind that Cuckson takes on, wild excursions in sonic extremes and fierce technique. She described one piece that she played at the Transformer Station on April 1 as “practically impossible,” holding up a page black with notes to show the audience. What’s most impressive about Cuckson is the warmth and humanity she brings to the music. Highly abstract, it tends to sound cold even in the best hands. Cuckson refracts its hard beauty through a prism of color and emotion, bringing to life its primal appeal.

In an opening piece by Xenakis, she built an intense sound that crackled and buzzed and seemed to swoop around the room. An extended exercise in microtonality by George Freidrich Haas was like an inventory of new sounds and techniques, daunting at times but skillfully drawn. A final dazzling run gave Cuckson a chance to show some serious chops. Pierre Boulez sounded comparatively tame in this program, especially with Cuckson giving his Anthemes 1 an airy quality, rich in vibrant colors. An homage to a Luigi Nono work that Cuckson recorded with electronics wizard Christopher Burns built to a noise that sounded like the music itself was being torn apart. Cuckson added vocals in some of the quieter moments that gave the piece another dimension. And far from impossible, Brian Ferneyhough’s Intermedia alla ciaconna turned out to be a showcase for a variety of demanding techniques. Cuckson is not a flamboyant player – she is too deep into the music for that. But she gave a dazzling demonstration of why she’s become such an in-demand artist.

Speaking of which, Cuckson came to Cleveland from Munich, where she performed with jazz pianist Vijay Iyer. She’s on his latest CD, Mutations, another indication of her range and talent.”