By David Weininger via The Boston Globe (August 23, 2012)
One of the new-music highlights of last season was a performance at the Institute of Contemporary Art of Georg Friedrich Haas’s “in vain,” a forbiddingly difficult work of theatrical intensity. The rare opportunity to hear the landmark piece came courtesy of Sound Icon, a highly talented group committed to playing mostly avant-garde European works of the past three decades. The performance was led with conviction and assurance by music director Jeffrey Means.
Ensembles like Sound Icon, which take on repertoire played by few other groups, are hugely important in any city’s new-music scene but can be hard to keep going. Which is why it’s encouraging that the group has recently made public plans for its third season. It begins on Oct. 21 at Boston University with a performance of “Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil,” by the spectral composer Gérard Grisey. The 35-minute work, which Means described in an e-mail as a “late masterpiece,” consists of four songs for soprano and ensemble, each text about a different aspect of death.
On Nov. 17, Means will lead two works by French composer Philippe Leroux, who will be present at the concert at Northeastern University’s Fenway Center. The program also includes the American premiere of Haas’s “. . .und. . .”
Another US premiere, of Stefano Gervasoni’s Epicadenza for solo percussion and ensemble, is on the March 26 concert, which also includes Elliott Carter’s “ASKO Concerto.” Carter also figures in concerts on April 12 and 13, when Sound Icon will perform at the annual Fromm new music concerts at Harvard University.
Means hinted at another event at the ICA on a scale similar to that of the performance of “in vain,” but did not reveal details. “It promises to be an exciting event,” he e-mailed.