S&H Concert Review

Cashian, Harrison, Norman, Redgate The Composers Ensemble/Roger Redgate, The Warehouse 9 11 00 (PGW)

The BMIC hosted at The Warehouse a rewarding and well attended Goldsmiths' College showcase concert, all four composers represented being present or past lecturers at this very active and diversified London University music department. S&H has reported from time to time on some of the activities of its choir, orchestra and nationally famous Russian Centre .

Sadie Harrison may need to reconsider the relationship between length and content in her two new pieces? The twenty minute Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (the strife of love in a dream) featured viola (Stephen Tees) & Simon Limbrick on vibraphone, its delicate tones sometimes overwhelmed by the other instruments. Accidental Flight for marimba was in 'open form' - how open? Shortening might improve it too.

Katherine Norman has an obsession with Bach's B minor fugue (Book 1 of the 48) and built her substantial piano piece (Fuga Interna III) from a fragment of it involving the interval of a third - - - . Her Helpful instructions for Circus Performers gave a good opportunity for Simon Limbrick (who regularly gives solo percussion recitals at Goldsmiths) to demonstrate his sprinting abilities and potential as a knife thrower, but some of the jokes (e.g. discarding pages of the score one by one as waste paper) pall with repetition. (A newly released CD off Katherine Norman's music for piano includes Fuga Interna I and Transparent Things, the set piece for the SPNM Contemporary Piano Competition held later the same week at The Warehouse - Metier MSV CD92054) (to be reviewed)

Roger Redgate
(who also conducted the ensemble) is one of the 'complexitist' composers, a little out of fashion these desperate crowd-pulling days. His impressive percussion solo échorché , receiving its first performance, is derived from violent drum material, texturally refined mainly on tuned percussion. I found it absorbing, as too his short virtuosic Pierrot on the Stage of Desire for the full ensemble.

Philip Cashian had three contrasted works, all notable for concision and clarity. Four Inventions (1997) for piano (Clive Williamson) began with a fanfare & chorale and ended with an intricate moto perpetuo and together they make a good recital group. Brand new, and a decided hit, was Tag for an exotic array of percussion (Simon Limbrick, the star of the evening). This introduced numerous subtle effects which had been worked out between soloist and composer, many finger-quiet, all of them (and indeed a majority of pieces throughout the long evening) encouraging attentive listening. The Devil's Box (1999) is an admirable work for the unusual combination of viola, clarinet & piano, which ended the evening, and should have wide exposure in concerts programmed with the Mozart trio for the same unusual combination. There is some tricky counting to negotiate in the last of its five short movements which ended the evening 'with mechanical precision and blazing' !  [CD review]


Peter Grahame Woolf

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