Joshua Modney & Eric Wubbels | Bond Chapel, University of Chicago | Classical | Chicago Reader
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Joshua Modney & Eric Wubbels 

When: Sun., March 15, 3 p.m. 2015
A staggering weeklong salute to the radical German composer Mathias Spahlinger in the year of his 70th birthday concludes today with a diverse program that features musicians from Germany, Switzerland, and New York playing works written over a 30-year span. The centerpiece of the program is the rarely performed Extension, here played by violinist Joshua Modney and pianist Eric Wubbels (both charter members of New York’s sublimely exploratory Wet Ink Ensemble). A daring work written between 1979 and 1980, Extension lays out many of Spahlinger’s key themes, paramount among them a focus on organization and structure rather than on melody and harmony. In the liner notes to the piece’s definitive recording, by pianist Hildegard Kleeb and violinist Dimitris Polisoidis, Spaghlinger is quoted as saying that the language of art is “an ordering system that negates itself in the act of illuminating itself.” This process of generating the “dissolution of order” opens up a vibrant sound world, though the listener’s relationship with those sounds are mediated by the composer. Yet even without any theoretical framework there’s an undeniable power to the palette of extended techniques and noises presented in the rigorous work. Terse clusters, metallic skitters, and muted percussive patterns from the piano, and the violin’s brittle pizzicato, wild pitch-bending bowing, and visceral harmonic etches are just some of the unpredictable sounds engaging in a sleek, mercurial dance. The program also includes the 2010 piece Rundweg, performed by the Berlin trio XelmYa, and the 2014 solo drum-kit work Ausnahmslos Ausnahmen, played here by Swiss percussionist Christoph Brunner. —Peter Margasak

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