CIMF review / A most fascinating and amazing sound experience

Music / CMIF Concert 12: “Glass Games”. At Canberra Glassworks, Wednesday, May 2. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Ben Hoadley plays “Landscape with Figures” for bassoon on the staircase in the Glassworks foyer.

CONCERT 12 of the Canberra International Music Festival at Canberra Glassworks was always going to be more than another event; it was the .

Beginning with Roger Smalley’s “Landscape with Figures” for bassoon solo performed by Ben Hoadley on the staircase in the Glassworks foyer, this staccato-filled piece combined with languid legatos brought out the best of the plaintive voice of the bassoon, which was played with a delicacy by Hoadley who kept the standing audience gripped for more than seven minutes.

Susanna Borsch… an extraordinary performance. Photo by Peter Hislop

Then it was upstairs and on to the viewing platform in the hotshop to hear Ned McGowan’s “Workshop” for alto recorder and electronics, performed by Susanna Borsch, from Dapper’s Delight, on recorder. Borsch gave an extraordinary performance of this loud, fast and complex work. The recorder was mic’d up and the sounds of Borsch’s playing along with the electronic sounds blasted through the large and noisy space. This happened while the glass workers continued doing their thing around the performance.

Following was “Two pieces for trumpet” by Giacinto Scelsi, played by Fletcher Cox. The trumpet echoed strongly through the workshop displaying the depth, highs and volume of the trumpet in a grand and processional piece. When the Harmon mute was fitted for the second work, it set the sound in the distance as if in a smoky jazz club.

Claire Edwardes performed Benjamin Drury’s world premiere of his composition titled “Stained Glass” for vibraphone and electronics around in the coldshop. The soft and mellow vibraphone seemed to reflect the diffused multi-coloured stained glass through this smooth and flowing piece.

Claire Edwardes performs Benjamin Drury’s world premiere of his composition titled “Stained Glass” for vibraphone and electronics. Photo by PETER HISLOP

This concert was part performance-based, and for the Luciano Berio piece, “Naturale” for viola, percussion and tape, James Wannan on viola hid in the back area of the shop then began to play as he walked up to Edwards with her percussion instruments.

The distinctive music of Berio fitted in well with the surrounding. His music can take a listener through a dreamscape to a state of confusion within a wall of unusual sounds and styles. A part of the tape sounds were Sicilian street singers, which added another interesting dimension to this multi-faceted piece.

Back in the foyer, Magdalenna Krstevska on clarinet gave a stunning performance of concentration and expression in Stravinsky’s “Three pieces for clarinet solo”. Over the three short pieces, the whole range of the clarinet’s animated and multi-faceted tone colour echoed out through the foyer.

The final piece in the Fitters Workshop, Eugene Ysaye’s, “Sonata” for violin solo, performed by Anna da Silva Chen was a sublime experience. Over the four movements, which she performed from memory, the audience experienced a sensitive and technically tricky work that was a display of violin virtuosity — this concert had it all.

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