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Wonderfully Inventive

Music and dance on the theme of creation,
appreciated by MIKE WHEELER


Every year at about this time musicians from Sinfonia Viva, the UK East Midlands' professional chamber orchestra, go into local schools and colleges to work with students on a new creative project. This culminates in a concert in Derby's Assembly Rooms, and over the years the workshops have produced some exciting results.

This year the project has taken the theme of creation, and there is a strong dance element for which Viva have been joined by dancer and choreographer Tom Dale. And for the first time there was a smaller spin-off event ahead of the main concert (Derby Dance, Derby, UK, 28 February 2008).

The music was in the hands of the Sinfonia Viva String Quartet -- Benedict Holland, Philip Gallaway, Richard Muncey and Deirdre Bencsik, with Dale and colleague Louise Tanoto choreographing the programme's even-numbered items.

The dances were wonderfully inventive. To the Burlesque from Britten's early Three Divertimenti Dale performed some remarkable gyrations, full of great bodily flexibility. The scherzo of Shostakovich's 4th Quartet prompted what seemed to be a serious game of entrapment and release, with Dale and Tanoto in livid red, while for the second movement, later in the evening, Tanoto, in a simple black dress, danced a slow, anguished solo, ending with her crouched motionless for a daringly long time.

The quartet started the programme with a fresh, lively account of the opening movement from Mozart's 'Hunt' Quartet (K458 in B flat). The Nocturne from Borodin's Quartet no 2 was tender without being overheated. Pachelbel's Canon didn't quite have the polish of the rest of the programme, though it was good to hear it with its accompanying Gigue, given a vigorous performance. In the slow movement of Dvorák's 'American' Quartet the players drew out (again, without exaggeration) the music's inward concentration and melancholy.

The scherzo of Ravel's String Quartet ended the evening, the needle-sharp and buoyant playing perfectly matched to a joyous pas de deux full of mirroring and parallel movements that covered the whole space in front of the musicians.

A short (barely an hour) but invigorating occasion which will surely have sown seeds for future developments.

Copyright © 16 March 2008 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK



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