Review: Scaw, Parabola Arts Centre, Cheltenham
THE bass clarinet is a relative newcomer to the contemporary classical music scene. Appropriately clarinettist Sarah Watts opened the evening with the seminal work which started the revolution,Theo Loevendie's Music for Bass Clarinet and Piano.
The composer once described it as "totally bonkers", and though it made considerable technical demands on both performers, it was less satisfying musically.
The same could be said of Soliloquy IV by the Albanian composer Thomas Simaku. As a display piece it certainly demonstrated the range of the bass clarinet, yet it hardly captured the audience's imagination.
Steven Davismoon's Timeless Shades of Green, based on an ancient melody, made use of multiphonics and had a haunting, reflective quality.
Sunday and Monday evenings £12.00 per head for an all inclusive meal with Indian and Thai cuisine (normal price £14.50).
Bring this voucher to the restaurant complete with your name and email address on it.
Terms: Expires 31st July
Contact: 01452 223782
Valid until: Wednesday, July 31 2013
Then came Piers Hellawell's Minnesang which for all its initial exuberance and cascading notes moved away from Germanic revelry to evoke the Scottish island landscape where the composer lives.
The second half of the concert featured more accessible works, such as George Nicholson's Darkness Visible in which from the dark sounds in the lower register a chink of light eventually appeared.
Anthony Clare's piano solo, Feeling for Snow by Clive Wilkinson, was characterised by a lightness of touch conjuring up a winter landscape on which feathery snowflakes are falling.
By contrast Joe Cutler's three movement Urban Myths was more mainstream.
Chasing the Skunk was a lively, skittish affair with plenty of interaction between the instruments; Secret Garden began somewhat slowly and tentatively for both instruments until a definitive melody emerged. Jazz influences permeated Hokus Pokus with its restless syncopations and percussive piano accompaniment.
Mr Clare's own composition, Fall of the King, in which a sinous clarinet melody was supported by the sound of bells and castanets on the piano, provided a very satisfying conclusion to this Cheltenham Contemporary Concert which pushed back musical boundaries.