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Park Lane Group New Year Series 2012 - 2

12th January:

Mark-Anthony Turnage: A Fast Stomp for piano trio
Nico Muhly: Common ground for piano trio (UK premiere)
Benjamin Britten: A Charm of Lullabies for mezzo-soprano & piano, Op.41
Thea Musgrave: A song for Christmas; Aria from Cantata for a summer's day;: Aria from Harriet, the woman called Moses (European premiere) Janice Hamer: Daughter, awake with the moon for voice & piano (European premiere) Lord Berners: Red roses and red noses; Come on Algernon from Champagne Charlie Gordon Crosse: Piano Trio vers. rev. 2011 (World premiere)

By the middle of the week, the problems of this annual series which opens London's concert year became manifest, this year with additional doubts about a changed format which, with the abandonment of the early evening recitals, had left less time to showcase young artists selected by audition, one of the main purposes of the endeavour.

Worries about the PLGYA repertoire felt in earlier years re-surfaced, with programmes seemingly chosen by committee, involving compromise.

On the Thursday, the excellent Lawson Piano Trio (reviewed by Musical Pointers more than once last year) followed Turnage's relentless Fast Stomp with Nico Muhly's Common Ground with its 'three different repetitive techniques', which I enjoyed despite having taken against his opera Two Boys. Gordon Crosse's slowly developing and overlong trio (albeit revised and shortened in 2010) outstayed its welcome.

Singer Belinda Williams (is she really a mezzo?) accompanied by Christopher White made a strong case for Britten's Charm of Lullabies, with excellent diction especially in the frightening Randolph setting, but her voice seemd to bloom better in pieces by Thea Musgrave.

Incongruous "committee" programming was demonstrated by having Berners' Red Noses and Come on Algernon (obviously Belinda's fun finishers) followed by that Crosse trio...

The problems, the same ones that have been rumbling for years, were taken up in several reviews:

by Geoff Brown in The Times





by Ivan Hewett in The Telegraph The Park Lane Group’s week-long New Year Series ought to be an occasion for rejoicing. What could be more heart-warming than a showcase for new performing talent, which highlights new music rather hoary old classics? But any flutterings of anticipation give way to gloom the minute one steps inside the concrete coffin of the Purcell Room, and struggles to make sense of the arcane programme-book. - - What disappears in all this musical horse-trading is any notion that a concert is more than a showcase. It should be crafted with love and imagination, as a way of giving pleasure - -

and Anne Pickard in The Independent For young composers and musicians, the Park Lane Group's annual showcase is required listening. Here is the carrot and the stick: a scheme that sponsors recitals by emerging artists and ensembles with the proviso that 20th- and 21st-century music is central- - resurrecting PLG-approved works that would otherwise be heard only in the conservatoires. As an eco-system, PLG is perfect: self-supporting, renewable. But it seems to me that composers benefit more than the performers - - etc

Peter Grahame Woolf