Linos Wind Quintet

Richard Rodney Bennett
Sonata for Wind Quintet and Piano
Modern Innocence [World premiere]
Richard Rodney Bennett
Ballad in Memory of Shirley Horn for Clarinet and Piano [London premiere]
Dirty Beasts
Down-Hollow Winds
Three Little Fantasies, Op.6a
Richard Rodney Bennett
Troubadour Music for Clarinet and Piano [World premiere]
Concerto for Piano and Wind Quintet

Linos Wind Quintet [Juliet Bausor (flute), Daniel Bates (oboe), Christopher Richards (clarinet), Christopher Parkes (horn) & Katharine Willison (bassoon)]

With John McCabe (piano), Alasdair Beatson (piano), Daniel Bates (narrator) & Rebecca Wood (oboe)

Reviewed by: Robert Matthew-Walker

Reviewed: 25 July, 2008
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

This concert presented by the PRS Foundation for New Music drew a large and remarkably keen audience, most of whom stayed until after 10 o’clock.

Linos Wind QuintetThe final piece was John McCabe’s deeply impressive Concerto for Piano and Wind Quintet (1969), with the composer as pianist, a long and serious composition which, in its grasp of this difficult medium, shared something with Richard Rodney Bennett’s more recent Sonata which opened the concert. The latter work, which also received what appeared to be a superb performance, showed this remarkable composer at his most thoughtful, solemn and weighty, adjectives which could not be applied to the other shorter works of his played here, although Ballad, with its jazz-subsumed expression, is clearly a more serious piece than Troubadour Music, a five-minute trifle in this composer’s familiar post-Gebrauschmusik vein – as was Andrew McCormack’s rather oddly-entitled Modern Innocence.

Quite what was ‘modern’ about a work that self-consciously showed all too clearly the influence of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – seeming in the first part to quote directly from that century-old score – or what was ‘innocent’ about music that was manifestly neither new nor virginal remains inexplicable, despite the composer’s attempt in the programme to justify a title that merely obfuscated the attentive listener’s receptivity.

The two pieces by Martin Butler showed a genuinely gifted composer at work, but Dirty Beasts, for narrator and wind quintet to a text by Roald Dahl, certainly needed a microphone to enable Daniel Bates’s doubtless excellent narration to be heard at all – most of the time, he was drowned out by the quintet. Down-Hollow Winds is another matter; here is a genuinely well-imagined, essentially al fresco piece, one’s only caveat being that the composer could have abandoned his tendency to score in harmonic blocks and occasionally try his hand at linear, not to say contrapuntal, writing for just two or three players – this would have been easier on the ear, as well as on the musicians.

Oliver Knussen’s Three Little Fantasies was another piece of forgettable Gebrauschmusik – five minutes of nothing in particular, as dated as scatter cushions or kipper ties.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to content