Amandida Museum of Modern Art, Strasbourg 26 September
Les Percussions de Strasbourg 30 September Palais des Fêtes
Extremely loud ambient noise from permanent equipment
at the Museum of Modern Art (see Concerning multiple venues, dimming
and sound pollution in Two Cellists review from Strasbourg)
caused Zoltán Rácz to refuse to begin Amandida's
percussion concert. The intrusive noise could not be eliminated, so
Rácz was obliged to continue with the solo version of Psalm
151 by Peter Eötvös, a ritual memorial protestation in
memory of Frank Zappa, with strophes on bass drum and 'processions'
on metal instruments, included on a recommended CD [BIS
After that, five percussionists of Amandida, including composer
Lázló Sáry, embarked upon the latter's Polyrhythmia,
destined to continue for 80 mins and well past midnight - we did not
last the course.
[PICT Lázló Sáry (Marthe Lemelle)]
Played on 100 little suspended ceramic pots, each
with its designated rhythm, Polyrhythmia (1980) combines Reichian
process music with Cageian choice, each player deciding to move on to
his next pot when he judges that 'the formation of a musical constellation
is complete'. It made a pleasant tinkling sound, and would have held
attention more easily against a silent background, but it did occur
to us that it was a strange way for grown men to be spending their time.
(Fortunately, the problem was resolved for the lecture and double performance
of Eötvös's Brass: The Metal Space. at the museum on
the final day of the festival.)
Far more rewarding was the student Ensemble de Percussions
from Conservatoires of Lyon, Luxembourg and Strasbourg and reported
separately with another student concert. That memorable even was another
demonstration of what has often been reported by Seen&Heard in
UK, that some of the most vital and committed contemporary music-making
is to be found nowadays in Universities and Conservatoires.
On Sunday evening, we found the Palais des Fêtes
stage, which had accommodated 110 players from Montpellier the night
before, completely filled with the exotic instruments of Les Percussions
de Strasbourg, pioneers in the development of modern percussion
playing and instigators of a new repertoire. Notably successful was
Subgestuel (1991) by Gilles Racot, with a huge battery
of mixed percussion enhanced by well integrated live electronics.
The carefully contrasted, highly virtuosic and energetic
programme was despatched with unremitting verve by the five strapping
men and one diminutive Japanese woman, joined by Carlo Rizzo, a famous
Italian tambourine specialist. With his several sized tambourines conversing
with the Strasbourg players one after another, he premiered Henry Fourés'
Sommerbericht . For the largest, a tambourine polytimbral,
he deployed what looked like a luminous pink lollipop, but the small
sound emerging could have done with a little amplification.
Peter Grahame Woolf