07 May 2023


This concert was called Magic Eight because each of the three pieces were by an octet, two instrumental and one choral.  Most people just drooled over the Schubert Octet, well known and long (6 movements, ~1 hour) and interesting to me as I played my first chamber concert on two movements of the piece.  So I like it and they played it with immense capability and hugely satisfying interpretation, but it was just a little unadventurous for me, standard, ordered, of that era as works usually are, but of an era that just seemed a bit tame.  But what to say?  Max McBride was playing bass and he was inspirational, 5 strings, eyes up and around, glorious soft  tone, explosive semiquaver lines.  I was amused to see the cellist smile at Max's parallel lines to his.  I mainly watched Max and the strings, and the strings seemed to lead it all, mainly from first violin.  Quatuor van Kuijk were inspirational in how they communicated although first violin tended to watch less, but I caught a big smile between the violins at one stage and they were very obviously pleased.  That was after the interval.  Just before the interval was Per Nörgard Wie ein Kind (Like a Child) by Luminescence with Roland conducting, and that was odd, using lyrics and noises from Adolf Wölfli and Rainer Maria Rilke for all manner of fascinating musics.  I enjoyed it immensely, following some strange lyrics projected above.  This was very much not your everyday baroque outing; it was obvious why a conductor was required.  Really impressive and great singing and various noise making.  But by fave was the opener, Igor Stravinsky Octet, all jumpy and playful and totally a work for winds.  I delighted in the brass, not least the high, pure trumpet tones and the interpay of flute and clarinet and the bass-y bassoons and was struck by the long breaths demanded of Zoe Pepper.  This was my fave of the night although all was a huge please for whatever reason.  Nobody I spoke to agreed with me: they all preferred the Schubert.  So be it.  Just a bit too comfy a choice for me.  And one final observation.  The Stravinsky reminded me of Fellini and the dates align, so my guess is that Nino Rota (b.1911) was greatly influenced by Stravinsky (Octet 1923).  But that's just a bit of amateur musicological investigation.

Luminescence Chamber Singers, Quatuor Van Kuijk, Sally Walker (flute), Oliver Shermacher (clarinet), Ben Hoadley and Zoey Pepper (bassoons), Fletcher Cox and Joel Walmsley (trumpets), Jackson Bankovic (trombone), Aidan Gabriels (horn), Max McBride (double bass), Paolo Franks (trombone) and Roland Peelman (conductor) variously played Stravinsky, Per Nörgard and Schubert at the Fitters Workshop.

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