Graham Lynchs Invisible Cities took Italo Calvinos imaginary dialogue between Marco Polo and Kubla Kahn as the starting-point for this atmospheric piece with its fastidiously scored layers of sound, the rendezvous of East and West effected through a Delius-cum-Takemitsu harmonic language. All very pleasurable, certainly more so than Joby Talbots Lovers Ink. This rhapsodic conflation of swooning, Rimskian harmonies and (post-)minimal rhythmic repetition may go down well among the sub-ironic advocates of The Divine Comedy (a pop group that Talbot often collaborates with), but it offered nothing to suggest that here is a composer willing to put his orchestral expertise to less meretricious use.
Which leaves the undoubted highlight of the concert Tom Ingoldsbys Wave Etchings. In essence a three-movement piano concerto of outwardly classical design, it displays an engaging awareness of the dissonant counterpoint that flourished in North American music among composers as diverse as Ruggles, Sessions and, on occasion, Copland. Yet there is a Bergian richness and luminosity to Ingoldsbys orchestral writing, ideally complementing the Bartókian drive and, in the central movement, intimacy of the piano part despatched with assurance by Rolf Hind. The opening movement contrasted expressive restraint with driving energy, its successor teased out finely-shaped melodic lines from nocturnal harmonies, while the finale combined soloist and orchestra in an energetic toccata that kept up momentum through to the close.
Apparently the work received a standing ovation at its Spanish premiere last year. It was certainly well received by those present at Maida Vale, orchestra as well as audience, and confirmed that Ingoldsbys is a name to watch out for.
- This concert is broadcast by BBC Radio 3 on 13 October as part of Hear and Now in its new late-evening slot on Saturday nights
- Listen to BBC Radio 3 on-line