Ensemble Dal Niente with Enno Poppe | Gottlieb Hall, Merit School of Music | Classical | Chicago Reader

Ensemble Dal Niente with Enno Poppe Recommended All Ages Soundboard Image

When: Sun., Dec. 4, 4 p.m. 2016

Ensemble Dal Niente distinguishes itself from the rest of Chicago’s bustling new-music scene by its size and experience, but it’s also bold in its commitment to playing contemporary work from Europe—American composers predominate on the rare occasions when venerable classical halls like Symphony Center offer the opportunity to hear the work of living composers. This weekend’s ambitious program not only focuses on a slew of exciting music from Germany but brings in daring composer-conductor Enno Poppe to curate and lead the concert through several of his own pieces, as well as those from like-minded spirits. Poppe’s 2000 chamber piece “Holz” is a jagged, careening blur of lines that collide in dissonant spikes and impatient squiggles, at once familiar in its spry counterpoint and perverse in its discontinuity. A similar intensity pervades his earlier piano solo “Theme With 840 Variations,” a composition that delivers all the madness the title suggests. The group will also give North American premieres of the new Poppe piece “Stoff” as well as “. . . Sentiers Tortueux . . . ,” a 2007 work by Michael Pelzel. The program is rounded out by “Vermillion,” an early chamber piece by Rebecca Saunders (the subject of a fantastic Dal Niente portrait concert in 2014) that’s by turns sneaky, surging, and elusive.

Peter Margasak

Price: $15, $10 students

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