Live Review: spnm / Brodsky Quartet @ Kings Place

By Talia Last edited 112 months ago
Live Review: spnm / Brodsky Quartet @ Kings Place
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The "100 concerts in 5 days" that launched London's latest and most apostrophe free arts venue, Kings Place, have impressed us with the range of events presented. Sunday afternoon saw a concert that might be lost among the glitzier names on display, but deserves mention. Composers have to start somewhere, and here the spnm provided an opportunity for two composers from their shortlist to present works for string quartet, performed by the Brodsky Quartet.

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who earlier gave a wide ranging and insightful lecture on the theme of music as a mirror of the world, had chosen the two works, and explained that he'd deliberately picked music that was unlike his own. He spoke with both composers (we wish there had been microphones: Hall One's acoustic is very sensitive and it was difficult to hear what they were saying over the rustling of the audience) about their works before the Brodskys performed them.

Liz Johnson's Intricate Web was inspired, she told us, by the elaborate construction of a spider's web, and attempted to weave itself in similar fashion. Unfortunately the spider in question left the half digested influences of several other composers entangled in the web, and the result was a disjointed affair, although there were some wonderfully ethereal textures along the way. More satisfying was Oliver Waespi's Weisser Atem ["white breath"], which took as its starting point the experience of seeing a glacier, (something Maxwell Davies has had experience of himself, although his Antarctic Symphony is a very different beast from this), and floated lyrical lines over a slowly moving, almost static harmony. From simple materials, deployed with great economy, Waespi built a rich palette that conveyed an impressive sense of monumental space.

Peter Nagle

Last Updated 07 October 2008