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Two other works stretched either side of the tonal axis: Mazuzu Dream (1996) by Max Richter, a founder-member of Piano Circus, evoked the simple, even naïve 4-5-1 progression common to some West and South African music, with parallel harmonizing though in ever more complex rhythmic profiles, yet a few asymmetrical metres would have added authenticity and variety. The arc shape design allowed a simple melodic idea to dominate until the final shimmering codetta, but the somewhat sugary quality of the piece did not quite match the politically incisive subtitle, 'Victory Flags for Ken Saro-Wiwa', as an elegy for the Nigerian environmentalist. By contrast Yumi Hara Cawkwell's Groove Study (2004) presented a more engagingly dissonant, even aggressive idiom, with its central slow section affording some of the concert's only quiet and contemplative music.

The final work was also one of the most extended, Conga Line in Hell, by Miguel del Aguila, arranged by David Appleton, in which attractive Latin American dance rhythms, bossas, congas intermingled with more atonal and complex assymetrical metres. Here the work's virtuoso demands of coordination and rhythm were realised with consummate skill. As the applause lingered, the players returned to the stage one by one, playing and joining a groove in the encore, Rung, by Adam Caird, in which jazz-rock influenced gestures created an exciting texture. It was an ideal way to round off an exhilarating, entertaining and inspiring evening.

Copyright © 4 May 2007 Malcolm Miller, London UK



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