Review / Intimate music ‘Mysteries’ in cave soiree

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“Mysteries”… Stepping into Carey’s Cave for this music performance doubled the pleasure. Photo: Peter Hislop

A STEP into a cave is a step into living history, for here one can observe geology in the making with its spearing stalactites and soaring stalagmites. Stepping into Carey’s Cave for this music performance doubled the pleasure, for the space was so intimate, and Judith Clingan was so laid back, it was like being in a lavishly-decorated private parlour for an informal soiree, just for friends.

Music history was in the making too, with the premiere performance of a work by “CityNews” music critic, Rob Kennedy: “The Mystery of the Cave”. Writing for recorder quartet, Kennedy was inspired by the reverberate quality of the foyer space at the High Court. In five short movements, its structure is simple but evocative. Really clever is the use of pauses across the four instruments, designed to bring the reverberation into the piece, thus letting the notes hang in the air.

But Carey’s Cave, whilst having a beautifully clear and warm acoustic, has almost no reverberation, with the result that the purpose of the pauses was lost to just dead air.

On the whole, the Viandante Ensemble gave a nice performance, if a little tentative. But the balance between the instruments was superb, with the warm acoustic enhancing the beautiful warmth of the recorders.

Clingan’s choral group, “The Wayfarers”, featured strongly through the program, sometimes a cappella and, at others times with instrumental accompaniment and in different configurations. They covered music stretching as far back as Palestrina, of the 16th century, to Clingan herself, of the 20th century.

The singing was beautifully balanced and measured with excellent pitch throughout but generally lacking in assuredness, particularly from the soloists.

Especially noteworthy for their fine performances were Clingan’s “Song of the Elves”, inspired by and with words from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, and the Kyrie from Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem”. The Kyrie was made even more enjoyable with the innovative instrumentation, using eight recorder players and two cellists, emulating Fauré’s standard orchestral accompaniment.

Closing the concert was Clingan’s arrangement of a Taiwanese melody, “Friends”, featuring just the Viandante Ensemble (the recorder quartet). What a charming and delightful piece it is. Its beautiful melody was a perfect way to finish this quite lovely, informal soiree, just for friends.

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