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S&H Concert review

TextMusic - Ian Pace (piano and voice) with Carl Rosman (clarinet and voice): Great Hall, Kings College, London 24 June 2002 (PGW)


at 6.00pm
MICHAEL FINNISSY - Not Afraid
DAVE SMITH - I Fought a Monster Today
HOWARD SKEMPTON / JOHN WHITE - New works  ***
MARK R. TAYLOR - "Je donne mon concert d'adieu"  ***
FREDERIC RZEWSKI - De Profundis

at 7.45pm
FRANZ SCHUBERT - Auf der Bruck; Die Sterne; Im Frühling; Erlkönig
FRANZ LISZT - Die Blinde Sanger
JAMES ERBER - Strange Moments of Intimacy   ***
ROBERT SCHUMANN - Die Flüchtlinge
ROBERT SCHUMANN - Die wandelnde Glocke
KONRAD BOEHMER - Kinderlied zu Dresden  **

VINKO GLOBOKAR - Voix Instrumentalisée
HEINZ HOLLIGER - Partita  **
RICHARD BARRETT - Interference  **
MICHAEL FINNISSY - Marcel Duchamp. the Picabias and Apollinaire, attend a performance of 'impression d'Afrique' by Raymond Roussel at the Théatré Antoine  **

Another far ranging marathon from Ian Pace, a four-hour concert with many world *** & UK ** premières, shared this time with an expert Australian clarinettist, Carl Rosman. For me, the most notable items included three trenchant political works, Finnissy's Not Afraid about the Cable Street riots, and two descriptions of life inside prison, Smith's I Fought a Monster Today (IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands) and Rzewski's moving De Profundis (Oscar Wilde). This incorporated using the piano case and the performer's body as percussion instruments, as also in this grossly under-rated composer's major cycle The Road.

Resurrections of melodrama (speech with piano accompaniment) by Schumann and Liszt were thoroughly worth-while and made a strong case for this genre, and there was a nice pairing of Schumann's The walking bell with a gloss on its Goethe poem by Boehmer, updated to East Germany 1989, which revealed Ian Pace to us as an uninhibited 'singing pianist'.

Erber's fascinating and thoroughly innovative work, heard for the first time, deserves future outings. Clarinet pitches and rhythms are bent and 'instrumental intimacies' intrude until 'extended vocalism' (by playing whilst inhaling, etc) marks the piece's development 'from the abstract to the more overtly physical'. It related to Globokar's experiments in the 1970s, such as his 1973 Voix Instrumentalisée, which does everything imaginable on a bass clarinet whose owner has forgotten to bring its mouthpiece!

There were intermittent problems of text audibility due to microphone balancing and placement, and the venue, otherwise attractive, is blighted by noisy air conditioning which rendered null the subtleties of piano resonances, and left completely inaudible sounds stroked from the strings in the UK première of Holliger's substantial Partita for Andras Schiff; I wondered how often its dedicatee had performed it?

We owe an inestimable debt to Ian Pace, whose important London recitals in early 2001 were covered by Seen&Heard, January (Finnissy at the Royal Academy of Music) and February 2001 Meta-Piano at King's College, and whose concentration, virtuosity and stamina give a new meaning to transcendental pianism.

Peter Grahame Woolf


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