UC San Diego's Department of Music

January 15, 2008

  Pianist Pavlos Antoniadis performed a well-developed selection of pieces of modal and modally-influenced music, at Mandeville Hall on Friday, Nov. 30th. His performance was accompanied by video work shot and constructed by his brother Andreas Antoniadis (the second the three members of their group "Breton Armé", the last being Irini Tiniakou), who flew from Athens for the performance. In addition to its technical polish, the performance was notable for the careful way in which it revealed subtle connections between pieces of diverse style. The repertoire was an investigation both of "modal" music and of the many ways in which modality continues to be involved with later music like Ravel, and even early serial and very contemporary work. Pavlos' keen theoretical curiosity, his insistence on thinking through and feeling through this music, distinguished his playing.

The primordial presence of modality in both earlier and recent composition was clearly laid out in the juxtaposition of the first two pieces. Pavlos' performance began with "Tiento del Tercer Tono," composed by Antonio de Cabezón in the mid-1500s. This work in the Phrygian mode, which Pavlos describes as "the river piece," presents two themes and their inversions, and then sets them flowing into other material. Pavlos' performance then transitioned without interruption into "Origami," written by Pascal Dusapin in 1998. Dusapin's melismas unfold to construct a highly emotive space of limited pitch, characterized, surprisingly, by  a timelessness similar to the feeling of the Cabezón piece. With this transition, Pavlos illustrates the nuanced haunting of the historical "development" of Western music by modality.

The large, striking video element (twice the size of the piano) played a role superficially contrasting, but deeply complementary. As Pavlos played Bartók, Andreas projected footage shot in a psychogeographical tour of Athens, continually and roughly arrested by fenced-off regions of space. If the listener takes Bartók's music to be fundamentally folkloric, the surface effect is of inter-media contrast. Yet Pavlos' tense, forceful and breathless playing of Bartók established a deeper harmony with the shots of his native city. By these means the audience was carefully led to intuit that Bartók is not just a translation of folk music into a modern dimension. Pavlos commented on this later: "Bartók is industrial music."

In the closing piece by Messiaen, "Mode de Valeurs et d'Intensites" (1949), Andreas' video work again operated on two levels. The first of these was direct expression of the complex intertwinement of lines interacting with sudden bursts of color. The stronger, more affecting level comes from the usage of Francis Bacon's paintings of Pope Innocent X - a screaming, tortured portrait crowned with a halo of meat - for achieving that color, which serves to emphasize the presence of deep emotion permeating the formidable intellectual edifice.

Antoniadis recently began studying in the Music Department at UCSD this fall on a Fulbright Scholarship. Previous to his study here he lived, worked and performed in Athens, where he was born and has lived for most of his life. He has studied at the National University and at the Nakas Conservatory in Athens, at the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag in The Netherlands, and privately in England with Ian Pace. Having established himself as a performer in European settings such as Centre Acanthes, Darmstadt, Pavlos was very happy to begin study at UCSD, because of the prominence of the school and the opportunities offered here for doing interdisciplinary work on contemporary music.

In January, Pavlos will participate in a concert in Athens Concert Hall under the guidance of Ensemble Modern, Frankfurt. He plans in the coming year to bring his focus back to the position of complex avant-garde music within the frame of discourses on modernism, as well as to explore more American music. As for future intermedia projects, he said "I consider listening to music by itself to be almost a political act in an era of images. Still, Breton Armé are going to explore more possibilities concerning the reinterpretation of texts, be they musical, theaterical, or other."

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