BBCSO – Invitation Concert – 3rd October

Colin Riley
The Inside Springs [World premiere]
Tom Ingoldsby
Wave Etchings [UK premiere]
Graham Lynch
Invisible Cities [London premiere]
Joby Talbot
Lovers’ Ink [World premiere of full orchestral version]

Rolf Hind (piano)
BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pascal Rophé

Reviewed by: Richard Whitehouse

Reviewed: 3 October, 2001
Venue: BBC Studio One, Maida Vale

For its first Maida Vale Invitation Concert of the new season, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, under the expert and sympathetic guidance of Pascal Rophé, performed works by four composers in their 30s and early 40s. Colin Riley’s The Inside Springs is a 19-minute tone poem centred on ’growth and renewal’. Its opening section abounds in vivid, Lutoslawskian sonorities, but loses direction in the lengthy slow central section – its reiteration of static motivic patterns, for all the translucency of texture, felt a little too indulgent for its own good. The striving upward motion of the final section seems perfunctory in consequence, rounding off the work bracingly if hardly convincingly.

Graham Lynch’s Invisible Cities took Italo Calvino’s 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 Talbot’s 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.

Tom IngoldsbyWhich leaves the undoubted highlight of the concert – Tom Ingoldsby’s 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 Ingoldsby’s 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 Ingoldsby’s 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

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