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Conjunto Ibérico
& CD















Glass, Riley, Denisov, Donatoni, Pärt & Loevendie

DVD: Cobra 0006
CD: Etcetera KTC 1252

Received for review after Conjunto Ibérico's UK debut at Wigmore Hall, these two productions demonstrate the extraordinary self-sufficiency of an ensemble of cellos, one which no other instrument can offer.

Conjunto Ibérico has built up its repertoire of music for eight cellos from commissions and arrangements, and these two releases are excellent examples of their scope in contemporary music.

They have a bias, perhaps, towards the minimalists, and Philip Glass is not everyone's favourite composer. Nonetheless, the strong pulse of the pieces arranged for this unique dance production with the composer's enthusiastic support goes well with Conny Janssen's choreography, the work growing from its chosen venue, a vast waste disposal centre in Alkmaar, the haarsh concreted industrial site and its machinery contrasting with the fragility of the dancers' bodies.

Do not be put off by its slow start (as one of us was); the young dancers soon display impressive athleticism and, to cover the enormous space, they even dance on mini-scooters and lift each other on roller blades. The choreography is inventive, and the music is played on a high ramp, conducted by Elias Arizcuren from a lifting hoist.

With imaginative lighting and filming, this is a unique modern dance DVD, recommended without reservation.

The CD Etcetera KTC 1252 spans several modern idioms. Riley's 20 mins memorial for the son of the Kronos Quartet's leader is a rich creation to convert the doubters, who may be less convinved, despite its rich sonority, by another version of Pärt's ubiquitous Fratres; that recyclist par excellence has published it for string orchestra with percussion; violin and piano, and for four, eight or twelve cellos!

Hugely successful are the commissions from Donatoni and Loevendie; the first tough and virtuosic, the latter's Mediterranean Dances whimsical evocations of Spain and (my favourite) a slow Turkish Zeybeck.

Peter Grahame Woolf