I was deeply disappointed to hear Paola Prestini's Labyrinth last evening at the Gardner Museum. I had high hopes; Prestini has a central part in the oversized Ouroboros Trilogy of operas coming to Boston in the fall, and this was my first live experience with her work.
The soloists were superb—Tim Fain (violin) and Maya Beiser (cellos) each played a section of this "concerto." They were accompanied by tape loop, and video. Carmen Kordas designed the video for House of Solitude, the first part, to accompany Fain, and Erika Harrsch created Room No. 35, the video that accompanied Beiser.
I could have found more interest in the video if I could have found more interest in the music. As a colleague pointed out, Fain's solo part never seemed to leave its one single key. Beiser's solo part was more complex, and both were virtuosic, but the taped accompaniment broke no new ground. It was ambient, background sounds, not really interacting with the soloists. Sometimes it repeated phrases from the live instruments, but there were no interactions between tape and soloist. They simply played along together.
Simple, ambient sound is not a bad thing—it just seemed like more was promised from this event, with major collaborators in multiple art forms. We'll see what Prestini's Gilgamesh, her contribution to the Ouroboros Trilogy, has to offer.