Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

New Music Show 3

Queen Elizabeth Hall
2 December 2012

4.30pm - The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall John Cage: Suite for Toy Piano Andrew Hamilton: Music for Losers for solo cello Juliana Hodkinson: Stills for clarinet and piano London Sinfonietta
5.15pm - Composer talks with Andrew Hamilton, Tansy Davies and Larry Goves The Front Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall 6pm - MAIN SET 2, Queen Elizabeth Hall Tansy Davies: Nature - concerto for piano and 10 players (London premiere) Larry Goves: Trends in Personal Relationships (1st public performance) London Sinfonietta Martyn Brabbins conductor Huw Watkins piano Sound Intermedia sound projection
7.30pm - MAIN SET 3, Queen Elizabeth Hall David Fennessy: 13 Factories for ensemble and electronics (UK premiere) Andrew Norman: Try for chamber orchestra (UK premiere) Gerald Barry: Lisbon - chamber concerto for piano and 11 Instruments London Sinfonietta Martyn Brabbins conductor Huw Watkins piano London Sinfonietta Academy Ensemble

A dense and tiring new music experience; a good atmosphere with a large audience moving around the building and music to be heard in foyer areas as well as in the halls. Some of it was naive, some other repugnant... The edited listing above indicates what I heard; probably much of it will appear on CD.

One is increasingly noting (in CDs from abroad too) that simplicities and complexities are vying, and - importantly - that "absolute music" is in decline in this century. Younger composers are relying more and more on literary, arts based and 'environmental' themes behind the notes.

Posthumous mementos for Carter & Henze were beautifully played and very welcome. Some new works need pruning; Fennessy's factories (with loom shuttle sounds) was intriguing at first, but far too long; Norman's Try did so, and showed great skill in lucid orchestration of noisy climaxes, but it petered out in the end with single notes from long-suffering Sinfonietta founder pianist John Constable, who'd started the evening playing Cage's toy piano in the foyer...

Best were two piano concertos with Huw Watkins in commanding form. Barry was entertaining as always, with hilarious incongruities - like Richard Ayres' NONcertos.

And for long term viability, I'd back Tansy Davies' piano concerto Nature, which I hope to hear again. In it she envisions the piano as "an enormous moth, prowling in the undergrowth" - in one of the talk sessions, she thought it would be "nice" if listeners felt that imagery...

I expect it'll feature in the next New Music Show CD.

Peter Grahame Woolf

see also guardianlondon-sinfonietta-new-music-3-review & bachtracklondon-sinfonietta-new-music-show-3