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Park Lane Group New Year Series 2012 - 3

Purcell Room and outside it; Final Day 13 January 2012

This was a splendid, indeed spectacular day's music making (see a selection of photos below *) with Poul Ruders PLG's "frontline composer" for the day.

In the QEH foyer (Front Room) outside the concert halls, the proceedings began with the Öhmann sisters from Sweden offering mostly quiet cutting edge music for cello with strange percussion, notably Pelle Gudmunsen-Holmgreen's Plateaux, with car-horns to disrupt the placid music (how many others there remember the great Stanelli's Hornchestra from my youth in the '30s?). The large audience was bemused but quietly attentive, some will have preferred David Bedford's piece for sax quartet which followed but others were then shocked and outraged by SYZYGY's very loud and discordant Xenakis offering, relieved only that it wasn't being given inside the Purcell Room !

Following his wonderful filmed session with Peter Sheppard-Skarvaed at the Royal Academy of Music the previous day ("we'd had a good talk", Poul Ruders told me) for PLG Ruders gave a more conventional interview, punctuated by two of his pieces, the more interesting for clarinet and piano - single line only - the two interweaving so that sometimes you could not be sure which was playing a note, particularly down in the chameau register.

That fascination spread into the major work which ended the evening recital, Ruders' Serenade on the Shores of the Cosmic Ocean (2004) for accordion and string quartet, new to almost all of us. In it he exploited the similarities of sound between high strings and accordion in a half-hour sequence of movements which bids fair to become the classic of that combination. Martynas Levickis of the Royal Academy's Accordion Department (Prof. Owen Murray) joined the Benyounes Quartet (now at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Bangor University) which had at Poul Ruders' invitation premiered RAM's Head of Composition Philip Cashian's new string quartet to great and fully deserved acclaim before the interval.

That's two fine works destined for "the repertoire" in one concert ! Interspersing them we had quality solo cello playing in early Ligeti & later Penderecki from Pau Codina (a member of Cellophony).

For those who could take more after the profound experience of the Ruders Serenade (a title which belied its seriouness) we could hear passing on the way out Gintaute Gataveckaite bashing out Ginastera's 1st Piano Sonata in the Front Room - louder than Xenakis' saxs, so it felt, but that's how the composer wanted it.

Peter Grahame Woolf

* Musical Pointers was invited by South Bank Centre to photograph the artists in the Purcell Room concerts - but only during applause after their performances...

Umeduo & SYZYGY in the Front Room

Benyounes Quartet & Philip Cashian



Benyounes Quartet, Martynas Levickis & Poul Ruders

Photos: Peter Grahame Woolf