This is a past event.
When: Sat., Feb. 9, 8 p.m. 2013
Price: $30
Amanda Baker and violist Beth Meyers formed Janus in 2002 to perform Debussy’s 1915 Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp (at first they worked with a variety of harpists), and it’s remained a staple in their otherwise mostly contemporary repertoire. In fact, it’s on the program for this rare Janus performance in Chicago; written as part of a never completed series of six sonatas for different combinations of instruments, it epitomizes the translucent, airy sound that Janus brings to a wide range of work. Since 2005 the group has included remarkable harpist Nuiko Wadden (best known around these parts as a member of International Contemporary Ensemble), and in 2010 it released a stunning album of commissioned pieces called I Am Not (New Amsterdam). The performances apply Janus’s serene collective timbre to music that nudges the instruments out of their comfort zone, whether rhythmically, texturally, or harmonically. Caleb Burhans’s “Keymaster,” which appears on the CD and on Saturday’s program, opens with fluid, sweetly lyrical flute floating over gentle rhythms traced by viola and harp; after a brief pause, the focus turns to the viola, and Meyers brings a striated, almost bluegrassy attack to a pattern that’s pure Philip Glass while flute and harp alternate between commentary and unison counterpoint. “Drawings for Meyoko,” by Angelica Negron of pop band Balún, also recalls Glass’s cycling, soft-toned minimalism; whimsical computer-driven electronic sounds float and chime in the background, while crumpling paper, amplified banjo, and meticulous, hypnotic vocal harmonies complement the trio’s core instruments. Cameron Britt’s “Gossamer Albatross” layers a handful of mutating lines that phase irregularly in and out of time, and tender solo statements by each musician lead back into mesmerizing variations on that phasing interplay. The program also includes work by Jan Bach and Martin Matalon. —Peter Margasak

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