For all its worldly trappings, as an annual gathering point for internationally-respected musicians composers, conductors, plus visitors and press from near and far, the unique power of the Ojai Music Festival (ojaifestival.org) is partly rooted in its “village” concept. As the cliché goes, it “takes one” to pull all the festival pieces together and it is one, a golden west coast destination spot.
On Sunday morning, pianist Conor Hanick (on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West) gave what, to these ears, was a clear festival highlight — a rare and sensitive performance of German composer Hans Otte’s complete hour-plus solo piano work The Book of Sounds. Somehow, Otte ventures from his cooler-headed Minimalist style to tonal detours, with influences of Messiaen, Satie and even a touch of his compadre Karlheinz Stockhausen in the almost mystical mix.
Hanick also captivated with his Tyshawn Sorey’s new For James Primrosch, commissioned by the Music Academy. The dreamy-stately piece again reveals Sorey’s unapologetic debt to hero Morton Feldman, but to artful, next-generation ends.