In that work, listeners have been provided brief, droning chords, in addition to polyphonic ensemble passages of whipsawing prolonged method. However gamers inside the quintet additionally diverged to current deliriously contrasting materials: At one such juncture, whereas two components held down a static sample with a parched, brittle strategy to sound manufacturing, the violinist Christopher Otto launched into sumptuously singing parlando.
On the finish of the live performance, the violist Yura Lee joined the JACK gamers and Nicolas to create a sextet for — deep breath — “Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Capable of Current Itself as a Science.” At over 20 packed minutes, this struck me as one of many loveliest and most generally ranging chamber music items in Zorn’s appreciable catalog.
Along with moments of chromatic density, the work welcomed gently strummed early music melody into its soundscape. At one other level, each cellists bowed doleful but beautiful patterns close to the highest of the necks of their devices, near the tuning pegs, collaborating on a barely bitter intonation that appeared consistent with medieval tunings. Given this vary, “Prolegomena” shares one thing with latest Zorn string quartets, like “The Alchemist,” which JACK has recorded along with his different quartets (for a deliberate launch on Tzadik in 2024).
In between the quintet and sextet got here Zorn’s adaptation of “The Gasoline Coronary heart.” This was Zorn in absurdist-opera mode. Right here, the JACK cellist Jay Campbell and Nichols joined two percussionists — Sae Hashimoto and Ches Smith — to kind the solid. Smith offered expertly swinging rhythms at a standard package, but in addition slurped water and gave the impression to be working a tool that performed again giddy laughter; when not taking part in vibraphone or different pitched percussion, Hashimoto may very well be seen torturing a pillow with a protracted whip or sawing a wood board.
The cello music — usually neatly, subtly amplified — was generally grim and gravely, and produced by bowing under the bridge. However there have been additionally delicate moments for the strings, usually positioned in distinction to a few of the wildness of the percussionists. This was all humorous, as meant. Each bar, although, appeared as fastidiously deliberate as within the extra clearly “profound” string music of “Prolegomena.”
And right here could also be a secret of Zorn’s longevity: A bit might have a tendency comedian or grave, however each second is very felt.