Opera + Classical Music Reviews

London Sinfonietta/de Ridder @ Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

3 June 2010

Shadoworks saw old-hands and young upstarts join forces for an ambitious programme of informal vignettes and fully-fledged masterpieces.

Queen Elizabeth Hall

Queen Elizabeth Hall (Photo: Morley von Sternberg)

André de Ridder conducted the London Sinfonietta with panache, whipping some of the audience into near hysteria.

There was muscular playing in Aldo Clementis Triplum, a wind trio of flashing, flickering music which at five minutes was over all too soon. It was a little reminiscent of Birtwistle’s trio Hoquetus Petrus, in the fidgety, neurotic leaps- brought to life in a vivid performance. Dai Fujikuras piece Secret Forest, a string nonet augmented by various wind and brass dotted about, had some interesting ideas of placement and interjection, but never really took off or fused the ingredients cohesively, despite its wild, riveting sound-world.

The great revelation of the evening was Larry Goves Things that are blue, things that are white and things that are black, which amounted to a triple piano concerto. There was only one pianist, but she was required to play on three instruments: a microtonal/electronic keyboard, a prepared piano and a normal piano. The effect of this mixed palate was music of multiplied contrasts and layered textures. The ensemble consisted of a large string section and three semi-soloists (horn, viola and oboe) who created murkily knotted, drifting gusts; culminating in a devastating emotional climax. Pianist Sarah Nicolls played with deft aplomb, navigating rough musical terrain with understated assurance and beautiful tone. Gleaming, top drawer stuff from a fearless performer.

During the intervals there were informal Foyer Spectacles from The London Sinfonietta Collective- a multi-discipline outfit who produce sound and installations in all possible manifestations. The most notable of the troupe were some improvised electronic jibbering from Alex Cook and Daniel Harle, and a hammed-up homage to the pangs of inspiration by writhing Jordan Hunt and his alluring cohorts.

Ligetis classic Ramifications was the icing on the cream-cake. An elegant performance of a masterpiece- with a shade of theatricality from conductor André de Ridder, who provided the vim and gusto present throughout the concert.

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