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Bmic@40 The Cutting Edge 2007

Simon Holt — Shadow Realm
Judith Weir — King Harald's Saga
John White — Piano Sonatas No. 154, No. 132, No.155 WP
Richard Baker — Sleepsong LP
Richard Barrett — Lost
Tansy Davies — Dark Ground
Michael Finnissy — Ragtimes
Joe Cutler — Koroviev's Tricks

CHROMA, Jane Manning, Michael Finnissy, Sarah Nicolls, Mary Dullea, Joby Burgess

The Warehouse, Theed Street London SE1 27th September

The annual Cutting Edge series was launched with a celebratory concert for the British Music Information Centre's 40th anniversary. We were reminded of the many concerts held over earlier decades at its West End base in Stratford Place, near Wigmore Hall, "surrounded by information in one of the smallest performance spaces ever to attract national press reviews" (Matthew Greenall, Director Bmic).

Now, its contemporary showcase accommodates large numbers of committed enthusiasts in an "ample and acoustically adjusted" state of the art recording studio, a few steps away from Waterloo Station.

Composers and performers, many of them well known and well loved, representing diverse strands of British Music of the present and recent past, were warmly received by an audience prepared to accept minimalism and extremes of modernism alike.

Simon Holt’s Shadow Realm for clarinet, harp and piano made a strong opener, followed by Jane Manning unaccompanied relating Judith Weir’s King Harald’s Saga (the text not ideally clear from the back). Most of the participants will be heard again during the autumn series. Three contemporary music specialist pianists took part; three recent examples of John White's numerous little sonatas were easy to enjoy - the middle one like Satie (Mary Dullea). Michael Finnissy gave us a little of his wild harmonic extravagance and pianistic virtuosity in three Ragtime pieces. Barrett's labyrinthine Lost intrigued with its 'convoluted interconnections in diaphonous sound textures'. Most spectacular was percussionist Joby Burgess first noted by us as one to watch at Gaudeamus Rotterdam) who stepped up the temperature for Tansy Davies' Dark Ground for 'drum kit with a host of metallic sounds' (to be heard again in Burgess' solo recital 25 October; not to be missed) and, partnering Sarah Nicholls (winner of the British Contemporary Piano Competition 2000), rounded off the diverse programme with Joe Cutler's spectacular depiction of 'sorcery with hilarious and devastating results' after Bulgakov.

A good evening with something for everybody.

Peter Grahame Woolf