Concert Review: Mobtown Modern Presents Adam Tendler Performing John Cage’s Piano Sonatas and Interludes

The 2640 Space in Charles Village of Baltimore MD has been a first class venue for everything from Jeff Mangum, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, Tai Chi classes, DIY art shows, and anything else you can imagine. It is perhaps the most malleable performance space in town and has just the right mix of class, dank, and perpetual construction to make it feel like it could exist only in Baltimore. Most recently, Mobtown Modern moved in for the evening and set up shop for pianst Adam Tendler to perform (from memory) the complete set of John Cage's Piano Sonatas & Interludes.

The concert was an intimate audience of around one hundred and made use of the back room in the 2640 Space. It also featured an open bar and DJ/Mobtown Modern Co-founder Erik Spanger to break the preconcert ice. The concert began with Adam Tendler explaining both his atypically emotional interpretation of the work, as well as his own interpretation of the composer, John Cage. He was right to assume that the audience would have preconceptions about the man behind the music. It is easy to assume that John Cage was scientific and cold becuase his music can sometimes give that impression, but Tendler dispelled this myth. With this warm and engaging welcome to the concert I was sold well before the first note was even played. 

Adam Tendler's performance was both gestural and strictly executed. It lived in the place between groovy and aleatoric. The composition itself is a rather large cycle of 16 sonatas and 4 interludes, which explore the more loose compositional makeup of the set. The performance however was a brief 90 minutes, which speaks to the quality of Adam Tendler's performance. I especially loved his brisk take on Sonata No. 5. There are few things more exceptional in this world than the way a truly powerful music performance can change your temporal experience, and the power and gravity felt in the silence between gestures. Tendler accomplished both of these that evening. He was also good enough to field a few questions from the audience after the performance about the practicalities of performing on and touring with a prepared piano. This piece does not end for the performer after the concert is over; it continues to bring it's troublesome ways into the practice room and through airport security. Finally, this concert was recorded for use by the MICA SoundArt program which can be found on SoundCloud here. I can't wait to see what they do with this music.

Upcoming events for Mobtown Modern are: 

April 12th at 8pm at The WindUp Space in Baltimore. A concert featuring Michael Lowenstern performing music of his own composition.

April 28th at 6:30pm at the MICA Brown Center. This performance is a collaboration between Rome and Baltimore using artifacts from the past (vinyl records).

May 6th at a time and place to be determined.  A performance of MUSICIRCUS from John Cage's "omnim gatherum" pieces. Performers are still being gathered for this one so contact Mobtown Modern if you are interested.

Mobtown Modern is a distinct and invaluable piece in Baltimore's ecclectic and burgeoning music scene. Don't miss the opportunity to see their next performance. You dig?

Dave

Dave (@DaveWhoDigs) digs musicianship, theory, and music that goes with craft beer. He writes about music from a classically trained musician’s perspective. He’s currently based in Portland OR.