Fulcrum Point parks
the car in Harvard Yard
with mixed results

Chicago Classical Review
March 30, 2012
by Lawrence A. Johnson

When you see a horn trio that requires a conductor, you know that the players or the audience are in for it, possibly both. Yet Ken Ueno’s Disjecta turned out to be the most compelling work of the evening.

The title comes from a collection of essays by Samuel Beckett. specifically an analysis of Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, which Ueno says greatly impacted his ideas about form in music. Disjecta is Ueno’s attempt to come to terms with his own musical development and “reinvestigate diverse elements of my personal compositional vocabulary.”

While it is scored for the same forces as Brahms’ Horn Trio (horn, violin, and piano), there the resemblance ends. Disjecta is more abstract, interested in utilizing the instruments in nontraditional ways and exploring wide extremes of timbral and dynamic contrasts in “four tectonic regions.”

Disjecta opens (“Heavy and Industrial”) with a growling chromatic piano figure that builds in volume and intensity yielding to a thread of extremely high violin tone. The second section (“Stillness”) paints a post-apocalyptic landscape with the horn player making wind sounds by blowing through his mouthpiece and the violinist playing the tailpiece of her instrument. There is a spare hypnotic quality in this music, yet the desolate fragments slowly expand, and the music becomes more tonal, urgent and expressive. The horn is finally allowed to voice its full rich tone in a rising lyrical melody and cadenza that could have descended from Richard Strauss.

Horn player Gregory Flint was challenged at times by the more stratospheric passages, but otherwise he, violinist Rika Seko and pianist Kuang-Hao Huang brought great versatility and concentration to this extremely demanding score under Stephen Burns’ alert direction.


© 2020 KEN UENO



© 2020 KEN UENO