United Kingdom Leith, Pranulytė, Keney, McLaughin, and Sheen: Residence Home (Josephine Stephenson [soprano], Heather Roche [clarinet], Kerry Yong [piano], Gordon Mackay, Mira Benjamin [violins], Bridget Carey, Reiad Chibah [violas], Colin Alexander, Anton Lukoszevieze [cellos]). Wigmore Corridor, London, 12.10.2022. (MB)
Oliver Leith – Grinding bust turning (2018)
Juta Pranulytė – Harmonic Islands (2022, world premiere)
Zoltán Jeney – El Silencio (1986, UK premiere)
Scott McLaughlin – Natura Naturans II (2022, world premiere)
Jack Sheen – Solo for cello (2021)
People usually prefer to classify. Aristotelians definitely do. There’s nothing flawed with that, up to some extent; it helps us make sense of the world, recognise affinities and connections, suggests how we’d clarify them, and so forth. On the identical time, classes and labels can tackle a lifetime of their very own, alienated, even reified. To this point, so uncontroversial, I think about; so why point out it? As a result of, I believe, these ideas chimed with a few of my expertise right here. In none of those instances did I’ve a lot thought what to anticipate from the music I used to be about to listen to: at all times an thrilling prospect, particularly when one has to write down about it. I fumbled, initially, with labels to attempt to specific an unquestionable affinity — unquestionable to my ears, anyway — between the music heard, however in the long run thought them unhelpful, preferring as a substitute to attempt to handle the substance relatively than a preconceived thought.
If I had learn the programme word beforehand, I ought to have been helped by Residence Home creative director Anton Lukoszevieze’s title for the night, ‘Harmonic Fields’. However maybe it was higher that I didn’t till later, sustaining the innocence of my ear. The truth is, what Lukoszevieze went on to stipulate was considerably totally different from what I heard. He pointed to ‘the works all inhabit[ing] totally different areas or “fields” of harmonic exercise,’ persevering with: ‘at this stage within the twenty first century there don’t look like any dominant kinds or aesthetic actions. We appear to be wading by a delta of several types of composition, leading to many rivers of confluence.’ The primary assertion, relating to totally different areas or fields was undoubtedly the case, although I heard in every case a specific attachment to specific fields: not that they didn’t change; most did certainly remodel, however typically they reworked slowly, or (not, I hope, an abdication of listening, since I imply to suggest some separation between ‘actuality’ and impression) looked like doing so. Nevertheless, relating to the second level, while I ought to broadly agree; the owl of Minerva tends, as everyone knows, solely to unfold its wings at nightfall. We might now consider Brahms and Wagner, even Schoenberg and Stravinsky, as having as a lot in widespread as they do issues that separate them, however they and most of their contemporaries didn’t — and sometimes with good purpose. What did strike me, although, was that these specific items, all however one written up to now 4 years, appeared very a lot to take action, within the sense of all shifting, in numerous senses, slowly; that ‘slowly’ vital, however so, equally, is the ‘shifting’.
Oliver Leith’s Grinding bust turning offered, in Lukoszevieze’s admirable description, a pairing of his personal ‘cello and clarinet [Heather Roche] as a dissolute couple, bonded however not united, pitch-wise, each enjoying materials in unison however tuned microtonally aside’. Such sounds our ears have turn into prepared to just accept over the previous few a long time, some listeners truly relishing the dearth of perfection in ‘interval’ ensembles that go extra readily out of tune than, say, the Berlin Philharmonic ever would, but in addition after all by intentional compositional use of microtones. The shortage of cello vibrato, although, additionally delivered to my thoughts a kind of ‘college orchestra’ sound. Repetition and what Lukoszevieze described as a ‘grating’ high quality drew one in to pay attention, Kerry Yong’s piano seemingly doing its personal factor, although that personal factor definitely had its personal tendencies too. A jest, or one thing extra critical? Maybe it was each. Not for nothing did Lukoszevieze consult with Satie.
Juta Pranulytė’s Harmonic Islands, for a similar forces, and Zoltán Jeney’s El Silencio (from 1986, but receiving its UK premiere) for soprano, two violins, two violas and cellos had in widespread an expansive, in depth high quality. The previous appeared extra clearly to be in transition, although that was, I believe, partly a matter of look. It definitely supplied appreciable distinction with the sound of what had gone earlier than, the cello’s vibrato now suggesting a distinct instrument; usually the writing for clarinet and piano did too. The strategy of engineering — or, because it appeared, portray — harmonic change by motion equivalent to glissando in a single half (cello or clarinet) towards fixed piano was very a lot to the fore. But so too have been aural methods, or to place it one other means, the deception of my ears; the cello would possibly sound as a clarinet echo, or the piano strings as an intensification of their cousins on the cello. The world of Schoenberg’s ‘Farben’ was not, maybe, fully completed with, all these years on.
Jeney’s piece, shifting in the direction of a gradual setting of phrases from Lorca, though it took some whereas for the soprano, Josephine Stevenson, to enter, supplied a distinct number of string non vibrato to Leith’s piece: glassier, nearer to a extra typical ‘new music’ selection. Taking its time once more appeared to be a great deal of the purpose, microtones maybe paradoxically (though not not like in Leith) as a lot delimiting the sector as opening it up. All music has its boundaries, its constraints.
Scott McLaughlin’s Natura Naturans II, for clarinet, two violins, two violas, and two cellos, takes its title from Schelling’s time period, to cite the composer, ‘for the continual “productiveness” of nature: nothing is mounted, as a substitute it’s continuously “turning into” because it cycles by secure, unstable, and “metastable” manifestations.’ That may be very a lot what we heard right here, testomony to the excellence of efficiency, little doubt, in addition to to the work itself. Clarinet summoned strings and responded to them, or so it appeared, the connection quickly being revealed as extra complicated than that. This was music ever turning into, by no means acquainted, with an nearly visible high quality to it. As with every part heard on this live performance, these appeared to be decidedly northern skies. I recall then asking myself ‘why did you consider skies?’ Maybe there’s something to that description, or maybe it merely says one thing about me. May these have been waters as a substitute? I’m not certain.
Lastly, with the interval after the interval to itself, got here Jack Sheen’s Solo for Cello, performed by Lukoszevieze with mounted audio, in what appeared to be one other masterly efficiency, absolutely answerable for the fabric, absolutely relaxed with obligatory modes of expression. Opening harmonic arpeggios quickly had one’s ears selecting up the slightest (in addition to better) variations, whether or not in pitch, rhythm, tempo, or different features of figuration. Change was usually gradual, but unmistakeable, occasionally not gradual in any respect. Lukoszevieze’s description of ‘a sort of flickering, glitchy and relentless “moto perpetuo”,’ once more captured the music in addition to his efficiency. I believed at one level of flecks in a woollen garment, the factors of restricted proliferation — though all proliferation has its constraints, absolutely. Circling, dancing, singing, repeating, altering, slowing, rushing: a lot modified in irregular (I assume) patterns. A mysterious silence that was not, permitting the audio its solo second, heralded the shut. Sheen’s rating appeared quietly to query itself.