San Francisco Classical Voice Review

COMPANIONABLE SCORES

The Left Coast Chamber Ensemble’s practice of commissioning companion pieces to established repertoire is such a marvelous idea that it’s strange not to se it emulated everywhere . . . Sam Nichols and Kristin Kuster had the nerve-racking task of coming up with a piece to stand alongside the Grosse Fugue. They did it well, it quite different ways.

. . . Kuster’s Midnight Mirror is another sort of beast. Her own account is vivid. Of the Grosse Fugue, she says that in it Beethoven “celebrates the relentless intensity of time, our enraptured emotionality that’s over in the blink of an eye, our strained and fumbling grip on time, churning, incessant, and ceaseless.” Fair enough.

Kuster’s concrete point of reference in the Beethoven seems to have been that unnerving eruption of trills midway through. A thicket of joyous trills starts her piece, to return later; the violins play long, sinuous lines, over insistent, impetuous music from viola and cello. In proximity to the Grosse Fugue the piece did seem to have almost an indecently optimistic outlook on life; that might have been the point.

Michelle Dulak Thomson, San Francisco Classical Voice, 10 December 2009