fb-pixel Skip to main content
Music Review

ECCE Ensemble unites in disparate music pieces

“Music may achieve the highest of all missions: She may be a bond between nations, races, and states, who are strangers to one another in many ways,” the novelist Romain Rolland wrote of a 1905 music festival in Strasbourg that brought together composers and performers chiefly from France and Germany. “She may unite what is disunited, and bring peace to what is hostile.”

A like-minded if more discreet concord transpired on Saturday night at the Goethe-Institut Boston, where ECCE Ensemble devoted a chamber-music program to works by Raphaël Cendo, 39, from France, and Isabel Mundry, 51, from Germany. The event concluded four days of workshops, rehearsals, and discussions, during which Cendo, Mundry, and ECCE worked with young composers representing a still broader geographic span: Iran, Turkey, Brazil, Taiwan, South Korea, and more.


Potential for clash was evident early, as Mundry’s breathy, discursive alto flute solo “Again and Against,” played eloquently by Daria Binkowski, gave way to Cendo’s dense, enigmatic “Furia,” brilliantly dispatched by cellist Séverine Ballon and pianist Wei-Chieh Lin.

But over the course of a long evening, Mundry’s contemplative sobriety complemented Cendo’s charismatic din. Meaghan Burke’s account of the first part from “Le Corps des Cordes,” for unaccompanied cello, provided more evidence of Mundry’s estimable knack for soliloquy.

You heard the same voice, concentrated and multiplied, in the lapping almost-unisons of Mundry’s “Liaison,” a taut quartet for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. And again, diluted, in “Die Vorüberlaufenden,” which Mundry composed jointly with Brice Pauset — coincidentally or not, a French composer active in Germany. Arrestingly voiced for flutes, bass clarinet, and cello, the piece was voluptuously conveyed by Binkowski, Burke, and clarinetist Camila Barrientos Ossio.

Cendo’s “Rokh,” which ended the program, employed amplification, a clanging, buzzing prepared piano, and a bevy of unorthodox instrumental techniques to evoke a fabled bird of prey whose plumage, on this evidence, was as prismatic as its talons were lacerating.


The performers — Binkowski, Burke, Lin, and violinist Karen Kim — played with slashing aplomb. And here, as in previous works for more than two players, the conductor Ryan McAdams helped to coordinate musicians taxed to their limits.

Steve Smith can be reached at steven
. Follow him on Twitter @nightafternight.