• Helmut Lachenmann

This year’s International Beethoven Project, a music festival organized by concert pianist George Lepauw, kicked off on Wednesday with the first of five days of performances at Chicago Urban Art Society. As its name might suggest, most of the pieces being played are either by Beethoven or by loose contemporaries (Haydn, Mozart, Handel), but this afternoon’s program, called Beethoven Today and curated by composer Mischa Zupko, features newer works. Seven local new-music ensembles will participate, and for me the most exciting thing promises to be a rare Chicago performance of temA, a 1968 piece by German composer Helmut Lachenmann, by Ensemble Dal Niente. The work for flute, voice, and cello signaled his break with serialism and his embrace of more radical sounds and techniques. Pieces like temA planted the notion that Lachenmann wrote music to sound as if it were freely improvised, and while that was never really the case, he’s drawn upon the techniques of free improv—gestural phrases, noise, unconventional means of producing sound with instruments. The group will also perform “About,” a wonderful composition for guitar, violin, and viola by Franco Donatoni.