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<<  -- 2 --  Bill Newman    BERLIN FESTIVAL DIARY


Each composer grouping began and ended on the hour, commencing at 19:00. At 21:00 it was the turn of Pavel Haas, one of the unfortunate victims of the Holocaust. The delectable Bläserquintett Op 10, and the unusual fusion of four strings and jazz drummer (in the two final movements) for String Quartet No 2, Op 7, Aus dem Affengebirg marked the festival appearance of the Petersen Quartet and drummer Colin Currie. The reflective qualities of this early work, composed at the age of 25, comprises subtle use of off-beat rhythms in a nostalgic setting.

The sheer musical versatility of Prague born composer Ervin Schulhoff, who died in Wülzburg Nazi Internment Camp in 1942, aged just 48, I find very compelling. It is often said that having gone through several transformations, his later music negated what went immediately before it, but his works during the 1920s when he was at his most productive in their transition from Dadaism to jazz, neoclassicism and folklorism, express best the personal freedom of his expressive styles and beliefs.

The Linos Ensemble. Schulhoff. 18 September 2000. Photo (c) Bill Newman

The Linos Ensemble, a bright and extremely versatile group of young players who bounded on and off the stage with expressions of high glee, revelled in showing off their prowess in Five Pieces for String Quartet, Concertino for flute , viola and double-bass, Divertissement for oboe, clarinet and bassoon, and String Sextet. Nearest perhaps to Hindemith, but more lyrical and less astringent, it is also possible to hear connections with Martinu, but this is music more strongly associated with outward feelings than ingrown neglects. Life's banalities intermingle with poetic manifestations of mock-realism and personal charm.

Performances were dexterous and daring by turn, which caused me to dart back stage to enquire why they haven't committed them to CD. 'Too much competition' they replied. Would they perform them in London, I asked? 'We have no representative, but we could appoint our solo clarinettist as our Manager. He has more to say than the rest of us!'

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Copyright © 12 December 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK





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