Yarde, Semmens, Lane, Howard, Piper, Brooke, Sammoutis
Given before an invited audience - regrettably small, probably because there was an important Nono concert at South Bank Centre - seven young composers with growing reputations seized the opportunities to play with their ideas on a full symphony orchestra.
This was a workshop learning event, so reviews of the individual short compositions would be inappropriate, save in general terms. With infinite always good-natured patience the LSO took on the challenge of deciphering and turning into sound scores of daunting complexity. They voiced comments freely, David Alberman as 'players feedback' with considerable wit; many of the points concerned playability and audibility of special effects, with a warning against excessive strings divisi.
The conductor François-Xavier Roth rehearsed meticulously and dispensed easily audible wisdom to all, entering into dialogue with the composers about intentions and feasibility. He broke the orchestra down into small sections and sub-sections, going over details meticulously until all were satisfied.
For we privileged listeners (for whom scores were made available) it was an object lesson in the unobtrusive skill which the musicians brought to bear on daunting demands, and they appeared relatively untired when, after Evis Sammoutis, the last of the seven to be subjected to analysis of his aims, had his piece Impacts dissected, reassembled and played through, Mr Roth thought it a nice idea to play all the other short works through again to round off the day. That was greatly welcome to those of us who had only been able to come in the evening.
Noteworthy was the wide range of disparate objectives and idioms, each briefly explained by their composers in a few introductory words; all of them finding the LSO completely unfazed. There were inspirations from computer imagery (Tom Lane's Pixel); Charles Piper's Sketches, tansforming, expanding and contracting a single line; dreams (Elspeth Brooke's dramatic Lagoon, with crocodiles snapping at the side of her boat), and an ambitious kaleidoscope of heterophony, timbre and harmony in the Impacts of Evis Sammoutis' way with the orchestra.
An admirable project, and I am sure these composers - will be heard much of in years to come, as maybe too some of tonight's music, recycled perhaps? Educational events can be as entertaining as many a concert, and we were grateful to another MP reviewer for freeing us from the inauguration of the Nono festival to spend so rewarding an evening at LSO St Luke's.
Peter Grahame Woolf