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Park Lane Group New Year Series 2012 - 1

André Jolivet: Chant de Linos
Gerald Barry: Piano Quartet No.1
Edwin Roxburgh: Flute music with an accompaniment for flute & piano
David Matthews: Duet Variations for flute & piano
Patrick Nunn: Sprite for solo piccolo
Thomas Adès: Piano Quintet

Muse Piano Quintet
Yulia Vorontsova, piano,
Ilya Movchan, Ksenia Berezina, violins, Ilona Bondar, viola, Jordan Gregoris, cello

Rosanna Ter-Berg
flute Leo Nicholson piano

preceded by Thomas Adès Masterclass with solo pianists Richard Uttley and Alex Wilson
Adès - Traced Overhead (1990); Three Mazurkas Op 27 (2009)

Purcell Room SBC, 9-11 January 2012

This shared concert of modern music was devised around "front line composer Thomas Adès" and it was preceded by a short run-through of two Adès piano pieces in "master class"; in the event with only the briefest of comments by the composer. I don't easily connect with some of his music and of it today enjoyed best his Mazurkas, heavily indebted to Chopin via Szymanowski.

Gerald Barry, a longstanding friend and colleague about to celebrate his 60th birthday, was Adès' choice of an older figure; an endearingly quirky composer whose music we have always enjoyed and often reviewed, first when he was a featured composer at Huddersfield and I suggested to him renaming his popular solo piano Triorchic Blues as Pawnbroker's Blues - it never caught on! Barry's feisty Piano Quartet was despatched with aplomb by a formidable ensemble of Royal College of Music students.

Adès's substantial Piano Quintet was their other choice; in both contributions Yulia Vorontsova [above in white*] held attention with her extreme sensitivity in voicing of chords at all dynamic levels and attentive rapport with her excellent colleagues. She is a pianist I'd go quite a long way to hear again.

Flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg was a delight to watch playing as well as to hear. After André Jolivet’s Chant de Linos (1944) she introduced Edwin Roxburgh’s effective Flute Music with an Accompaniment (1986), which extends the flute's vocabulary as Roxburgh has been doing for his own instrument, the oboe (q.v. his The Well Tempered Oboe for Chris Redgate's newly developed Redgate-Howarth oboe). Rosanna Ter-Berg ended her contribution solo with a tiny piece for piccolo, Patrick Nunn’s unaccompanied little Sprite, which packed in a lot of technical tricks and earned great applause.

* Most younger performers welcome live concert photo-images with internet reviews, but some venues still ban photography during events. Musical Pointers had been invited by South Bank Centre to photograph the PLG's artists - but only during applause after their performances... That's not easy!

10th January:

On the Tuesday, Esa-Pekka Salonen's virtuoso violin solo Lachen Verlent (Diana Galvydyte) pleased this reviewer better than Anthony Payne's Duo Footfalls in the Memory with Christopher Gould, piano. Anna Menzies (cello) did not project sufficiently or confidently as a soloist to make a good case for Steven Jackson's new piece, but she made a far better impression in coping with the extended techniques demanded for Philip Dawson's PLG commission Neither from nor towards, for which her pianist partner Prach Boondiskulchok did some nifty preparations inside the piano; the piece's development of its ideas was inordinately prolonged and it would be better shortened to the approx 9 minutes scheduled, instead of nearly double as premiered.

11th January:

Next evening John McCabe (PLG's "frontline composer" for the day) took two well prepared pianists through the minutiae of two variations pieces of his (1960 & 73), and in his choice for the concert which followed included a good account of a Prokofiev piano sonata (Olga Stezhko).

A brass quintet had cancelled, and clarinettist Harry Cameron-Penny with Jonathan Musgrave piano, deputised in Paul Patterson's Conversations (too screechy for the Purcell Room) and a jazz-based piece by R R Bennett (later in the week they impressed in a Poul Ruders duo).

Peter Grahame Woolf