Contemporary music played by Park Lane Group Young Artists
PLG Young Artists 2
Tuesday, January 11, 2005 Purcell Room, London
Reviewed by William Yeoman
The second night saw dynamic piano duo Cassie Yukawa and Rosey Chan perform works by Poole, Hesketh, Powers, Glanert and Ligeti, and the 7.30 slot was shared between violinist Ning Kam and pianist Daniel Becker, and flautist Daniel Parkin with Lindy Tennent-Brown on piano the latter two replacing indisposed mezzo Jennifer Johnston and her pianist Alisdair Hogarth. Which was fine, because the programme as a whole still displayed an enormous variety of styles, with works by Moravec, Lutoslawski, Olsen and Adams (Kam/Becker), and Boyd, Liebermann and Copland (Parkin/Tennent-Brown).
Geoffrey Pooles The Impersonal Touch, a 1995 PLG commission, began the Yukawa/Chan duos recital in fine style, with the works argument between two very different musical personalities (one flowing and Minimalist, the other jagged and Expressionist) reaching a febrile intensity before tapering off following a sparkling conciliatory dialogue. By contrast, Kenneth Heskeths short works, Netsuke Fragments I & II, presented often densely textured and sparkling miniatures after Netsuke, small and intricately carved toggles traditionally used by the Japanese to attach pouch-cords to kimono sashes. These were followed by Anthony Powers lively and cohesive short work, Flyer (here given its London première), Detlev Glanerts surprisingly rhapsodic Enigmatic Landscape and György Ligetis Three Pieces for Two Pianos. The Ligeti are quite substantial, and all display his tactile approach to keyboard writing, the logical hand-shapes and finger-patterns reflected in the motifs and larger units. The first propels accented chords through a long stretto into the upper register of the piano; the second, Self-Portrait, is an obsessive moto perpetuo; the thirds bell-like opening lifts like a mysterious curtain to reveal fractious melodies and the ghost of a chorale prelude sliding towards a climax which finally melts into pianissimo chords. Yukawa and Chan seemed very well matched both technically and tonally, and comfortable with the variety of contemporary idioms they tackled.
Violinist Ning Kam, with Daniel Becker, opened with the UK première of Paul Moravecs busy and mischievous Ariel Fantasy, immediately setting the tone for the rest of their contribution with impassioned, yet relaxed playing and a sense of abandon. This was equally evident in Lutoslawskis Partita, with the many lyrical passages, fluttering figures, rhetorical outbursts and beautiful violin soliloquies confidently and convincingly drawn.
Flautist Daniel Parkin and pianist Lindy Tennent-Brown then played the tuneful recitatives and swelling, ecstatic trills of Australian composer Anne Boyds Bali Mood No.1. Lowell Liebermanns two-movement Sonata (Op.23) came next, flooding the auditorium with dark tones, rapid divisions, imprecations and precipitous, virtuosic passages, throughout which Parkin skilfully blended the tonal variety of his flute with Tennent-Browns imaginative piano work.
Following the interval came another Anne Boyd piece, Goldfish through Summer Rain, before which Parkin recited the poem that inspired this evocative bit of Japonisme. Debussy-like sprinklings from the piano offset Parkins flute, which was miraculously transformed into a shakuhachi. Then it was back to America for Aaron Coplands Duo, which pieces opening intervals, recalling Fanfare for the Common Man, meandered through simple folk-like tunes and a sparse slow movement before exploding into an exuberant dance.
Kam and Becker then returned to reclaim the stage with James Olsens whimsical The Eight-Legged Altar Attendant, based on a passage from Ted Hughess Tales of Ovid, which refers to the Gods of Mount Olympus lamenting the loss of humankind and horrified at being left with empty temples inhabited only by spiders. This portrait of a spider, with some wonderful harmonics, pizzicatos and trills ornamenting a great deal of scurrying and leaping about, was followed by the final piece for the evening, John Adamss Road Movies for violin and piano, a great work where a typically minimalist first movement is pushed gently aside by a bluesy meditation on landscape which in turn makes way for a frenetic, swinging perpetual-motion machine called 40% swing. Of course Kam and Becker acquitted themselves very well indeed here, as they had all night, triggering very healthy applause from the audience and bringing to an end an entertaining evening from some of Britains finest up and coming musicians.