Intriguing Soundscapes was the next instalment of modern classical music by the Soundstream Collective which, under the leadership of pianist Gabriella Smart, facilitates new classical music creativity. The concert presented the world premieres of two new works by Adelaide's Charles Bodman Rae and David Harris and wind quintet music by Samuel Barber, Alfred Uhl and György Ligetti.
The concert began with the commissioned pieces. Rae's Ghosts of Galicia (2012) explores ghost towns or deserted villages as a result of atrocities. Elegiac notions of desolation and grief were deepened by expressions of immense beauty, stillness and spaciousness ever imagined possible through sound. The masterpiece was rendered exquisitely with careful tone blending and subtle dynamics by Peter Handsworth (clarinet), Elizabeth Layton (violin), Ewen Bramble (cello) and Gabriella Smart (piano).
The second world premiere was a stark contrast. Muldarpi - Compossible XXX (2012) by David Harris is an impression of the traveling spirits of strangers, 'the muldarpi', as told by the Ngarrindjeri peoples. Scored for clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion (Andrew Wiering joined the above quartet), the work opened up a grotesque sonic world, where the instruments became characters suspended on strings of descending and ascending motifs, punctuated by charged silences and manipulated by a puppeteer – the composer himself – who seemed to be both unfolding the story and commenting, bewildered and empowered at the same time.
After the lyrical Ghosts of Galicia and the music drama of Muldarpi - Compossible XXX the audience took a breath to come to a second half focused on modern music for wind quintet. The programme progressed from the pastoral idiom of Samuel Barber's Summer Music for Wind Quintet (1955) through the Australian premiere of the charming Vier Stücke (1964) and Humoreske for Wind Quintet (1965) by Austrian composer Alfred Uhl and finished with the inventive 10 Pieces for Wind Quintet (1968) by György Ligeti. Probing diverse soundscapes and a vast range of human emotion,
Lisa Osmialowski (flute), Celia Craig (oboe), Peter Handsworth (clarinet), Sarah Barrett (horn) and Jackie Hansen (bassoon) demonstrated virtuosity and strong ensemble work.
The climax of the concert for me was the second last movement of the Ligeti quintet. The synthesis and intensity of tone evoked a strong physical response – a thrilling reverberation that my ears have never experienced before. According to the accounts of some audience members, I was not the only one who had such a reaction.
Intriguing Soundscapes did not only spur my curiosity and deliver a high aesthetic experience but ignited a sound perception adventure which I did not expect. The works and world-class performances demonstrated to me how potent the voice of new classical music is in representing current times and contemporary culture. The next concert series by this innovative group of musicians is coming up in October 2012. Visit http://www.soundstream.org.au/program2012/
Soundstream Collective presents
Venue: Elder Hall, University of Adealide
Date: 29 July 2012
Tickets: $30 – $20
Written by Daniela Kaleva, University of South Australia