Before a performance starts at Spectrum, proprietor Glenn Cornett likes to stand up and say their motto is “too small to fail.” And thanks for that, because Spectrum can present music that no other place can afford to fail over.
Opening Friday night will be exactly what the venue does best; their new Complicated Europeans Festival. The festival will present a look into a movement that gets almost no play in the United States, the New Complexity that rose in Europe, especially Britain, in the 1980s. Less a school than a group of values, the music seeks complexity through virtuosic extended techniques, timbrel effects, incredibly fine and exact gradations of rhythm, microtonality, and a fragmented sense of form and shape. At its best, the New Complexity is full of surprises, tension, and the dazzlement of encountering a mass of fascinating and only partially apprehensible ideas.
Complicated Europeans promises the best. Opening night has flutist Ine Vanoeveren playing Brian Ferneyhough’s complete music for the instrument. Ferneyhough, first among equals in the movement, will be joined on the weekend programs by Tristan Murail, Richard Barrett, and others. And along with the flute, the concerts will feature contemporary music for tuba, and performance by pianist Marilyn Nonken and cellist Lester St. Louis.
The Complicated Europeans Festival opens 7 p.m. Friday, with concerts at 9 p.m. Friday, and 7 p.m. Saturday. spectrumnyc.com