Hub New Music, an innovative Boston-based group shaking up chamber music, has members younger than 30 years old who make clarinet, violin, flute and cello play as one— if not always harmoniously. But harmony has never been the main component of 21st century music. Unique unfamiliar rhythms and unexpected twists and turns trump harmony. Hub plays an unusual combination of chamber music instruments (including flute and clarinet), and especially for their final piece, the off-beat mix worked.
The four accomplished musicians who’ve been together for five years — Michael Avitabile on flute, cellist Jesse Christesen, clarinetist David Dziardziel and violinist Zenas Hsu —played to a paltry audience of a dozen on Jan. 23 at the Old Church in Portland. The small turnout didn’t disrupt their poise, but what a shame more music-lovers didn’t open their ears to this original, complicated sound that brings life to living composers’ works and realties in such an acoustically alive venue.
The group played their friends’ music, or composers with whom they’ve become friends. Laura Kaminsky’s moody eight-movement The Full Range of Blue (though Hub performed only six movements due to time constraints) is in part a meditation on nature yet ends in the spooky sadness of the 9/11 aftermath. Oregon-born David Drexler’s evocative six-minute Forgotten Dawn, winner of the Spontaneous Combustion International Call for Scores, preceded Kaminsky’s piece.
Robert Honstein’s 30-minute Soul House unfolds in eight movements, each named for a part of a house (Stairs, Alcove, Driveway, Hallway, etc.), with the most lyrical called “Secret Place.” The piece, which Hub commissioned and premiered in Seattle the night before the Portland concert, conjures up childhood nostalgia as the music moves from room to room, pulling us along, telling us a story, evoking memories. A recording has yet to be made of Soul House, but when it is, count me in for a download.