Is it the thiefs role to tell what he has stolen? asked Stephane Altier, the oldest composer here at 30+ (the others are hovering either side of 25). Sable-Monologues blocks of dissonant chords gradually soften to allow an ever-developing melody more air-space: whatever he has taken of Stravinsky, Altier has stolen it post-Birtwistle.
This Music of Today presentation one of the Philharmonia Orchestras regular early-evening concerts of contemporary music - came before Mozart and Bruckner from Lorin Maazel; its premise being the composers should use Stravinskys Concertino as a springboard for their own music not write Stravinskian pastiche. Noriko Motomatsu was the most Stravinskian, her fluid expression ear-catching, albeit the intertwining woodwind arabesques are a tad too close to The Rites Introduction One morning, a white wavelet rippled the surface of the lake The little girl paused and thought she saw something but her youthful heart made it disappear from her into the deep, deep lake like a dream long forgotten. a sense of fantasy and refined textures informed this attractive piece.
All the composers were required to use the same scoring as Stravinskys Concertino an unusual mix of violin, cello, flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet, and two each of bassoon, trumpet and trombone. American Richard Beaudoin utilised a hymn that a New England community chorus would have sung Josiah Booths When Wilt Thou Save the People? As Motomatsu was too close to Stravinsky, so Beaudoin was too obviously emulating Ives, who himself went over this ground very comprehensively popular tune surrounded by floating, uncertain, harmony; Beaudoin updated the formula by introducing some West Coast bright lights.
The remaining two pieces occupied a similar terrain, and might have made even more impression separated. Deborah Pritchards Waves is a miniature double concerto for violin and cello which have lyrical solo lines while wind and brass present a mosaic of scale patterns (reminding of Stravinskys Scherzo fantastique); Waves is irrepressible in its vitality. A similar arpeggiation occurs in Luke Bedfords piece, the light, space-walking textures are curiously elusive, not of this earth.
Excellent performances by the indefatigable musicians of the Philharmonia Orchestra under series conductor Martyn Brabbins who led vital accounts of these inventive and personable scores. Stravinskys Concertino itself ended proceedings in a snappy rendition Les noces meets Dumbarton Oaks.
- The next Music of Today is on Thursday 14 June at 6 p.m. in the Royal Festival Hall
- Two pieces by Deirdre Gribbin will be played Tribe and Celestial Pied Piper
- Admission is free no ticket required
- Read an interview with Deirdre Gribbin
- Read James Larcombes review of Lorin Maazels Mozart/Bruckner concert
- Following the MOT of 14 June, Roger Norrington conducts the Philharmonia in Mozart and Mahler RFH, 7.30
- Box Office: 020 7960 4201
- Book Online: www.rfh.org.uk