<< -- 3 -- Malcolm Miller ONE HELL OF A CONCERT
Rameau's baroque Infernal Airs, two dance movements from the opera Hippolyte et Aricie, delighted the ear in the post-modern garb of Butler's new instrumentation, followed by the most substantial and witty work of the evening, the exciting semi-improvisational verse-music work by Murray Lachlan Young with Peter Wiegold, Listen to the fools reproach!, it is a kingly title. This highly original and contra-orthodox setting of words displayed echoes of the music theatre-cabaret of Walton's Façade, half Gilbert and Sullivan and half rap, with Betjeman-like freshness and verbal virtuosity, laced with tongue-twisting patter phrases, with popular metaphors and repeated refrains of 'Am I getting warmer?', and later, 'No win no fee'. Young's exciting and witty delivery built tension through intentional suspension full of erudition, repetition, so colloquial yet jokial, so finely spun and spine-chillingly fun. It was also underpinned by a more serious layer of meaning, a cathartic homilectic experience with the possibility of intellectual and moral redemption. The music's pulsating patterns of syncopation and silence had a Bernsteinesque quality, with glittering keyboard effects as well as witty repetitions of motifs to echo the repetitions in the verse.
The climax of the evening was a virtuoso performance of Donatoni's Hot, which, though notated, was the closest to progressive jazz that I have experienced in classical avant-garde, and well contextualised in this programme. There were many superb solos and a concerto-like part for the solo sax taken by Christian Forshaw. After an improvised interlude and with the recapitulatory epilogue, one could appreciate the true professionalism and spontaneous inventiveness of the whole ensemble, under the ever-cool command of the intrepid Peter Wiegold.
One hopes notes inégales will soon appear in festivals and concert series across the UK. This was one hell of a concert; waiting for their next will be pure purgatory ... but heaven when it comes.