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RADAR VII - Romania in the Spotlight

Mercury Quartet
Vlad Maistorovici, Colin Alexander,
Harry-Cameron-Penny, Antoine Francoise & friends
The Forge, Camden Town, 2 July 2013

A remarkable concert at The Forge, one with a concept which has a great future, given that the UK music colleges are now all international in their student bodies.

The Mercury Quartet, formed in 2007 by four English, French, Romanian and Swiss student friends at the Royal College of Music, is now well established internationally with a series of concerts curated by each one in turn to highight recent music of their own countries.

Tonight it was Romania's turn, a country whose leading and emerging contemporary composers are but little known (or shown much interest) in UK. This, to our national discredit, was stressed by English composer Julian Anderson [R] in a pre-concert discussion chaired by Jonathan Cole [centre], with violinist Vlad Maistorovici, concert master of Ensemble Contrechamps in Geneva [L].

Of the four Romanians chosen tonight by Maistorovici for a demanding full length concert, two pieces by ┼×tefan Niculescu (1927-2008) made a strong presence; definitely a composer whose music we ought to hear more.

Invitation to waltz by Mihai Maniceanu (b 1976) was sheer delight, very subtle and exquisitely funny. [You can watch a different - and equally good - performance of it on youtube, but the humour doesn't quite come across as when hearing it live).

Of those composers I had met and reviewed, substantial ensemble pieces by Diana Rotaru (Doina's daughter) and Dan Dediu represented trends different from that of pieces by Dediu & Doina Rotaru (one of my favourite composers) whose music we had firstheard in Luxembourg.

The next season of RADAR at the Forge, themed with the four nationalities of the group, will again include works from the finest exponents of new music from each of the countries and is set to include commissions from Nick Martin, Will Cole, Charlotte Bray, Laurent Durupt, Jonathan Cole and Diana Rotaru.

I regret having only belatedly come across the Mercuries and getting to hear them. There is so much unknown music being composed in each of the four countries that I cannot see why this Radar series shouldn't carry on indefinitely.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Enjoy on YouTube Maniceanu's Invitation to waltz and three members of Mercury Quartet in Romania premiering Thomas Ades' Catch