sound festival 2020 review: Any Enemy

Saturday 24th October 12 midday

This concert is still listed under the rubric, ‘Virtual Concerts’ since for the audience it is still virtual but with the small orchestra playing together on the stage of Aberdeen Arts Centre it was very much a live concert.

Any Enemy might seem a strange name for a musical ensemble. It actually comes from the pronunciation of the group’s acronym NENME. This stands for North East New Music Ensemble. The group was founded in connection with sound by violinist Guera Maunder (Crockett) and bassoonist Lesley Wilson. From the start, Pete Stollery has been their conductor.

The Ensemble performed the music of six different composers. Pete Stollery is sound's chair and a Professor at Aberdeen University. John De Simone is a Senior Lecturer at Aberdeen University. Aidan Teplitzky is the founder and artistic director of the Hadit Collective in Glasgow which he describes as ‘focusing on the 5% of contemporary repertoire, that isn’t terrible’. Interesting!

We heard music by Lisa Robertson played on Friday by Exaudi. Rufus Isobel Elliot has connections with Nevis Ensemble, Scotland’s Street Orchestra. We heard music by Rylan Gleave in the Festival’s opening concert with flautist Ruth Morley.

The concert opened with Social D(ist)ancing by Pete Stollery. The work opened with strings joined soon by tuned percussion, woodwind and then piano. The notes were quite long and I thought of Pete’s close expertise in electro-acoustic composition where changes in timbre and general sound qualities are paramount along with rhythmic factors and duration. It was a fascinating sound experience with so much detail bound up in the instrumental changes.

The Dregs by Aidan Teplitzky started with oboe and bassoon in descending motif gradually bringing in the other instruments. Like Pete’s piece it had ever changing instrumental blends and harmonies.

Archipelago by Lisa Robertson opened with a bent note on oboe. The piece gave us a succession of little calls from all the instruments. I was reminded of some of the paintings by Joan Miró. It led into an Eastern sounding melody.

Carded and Bleached by Rufus Isobel Elliot was great fun. It had much theatricality about it. It opened with the stringed instruments tuning up, then the various performers did some amazing things, knitting, sewing, writing notes and polishing. Well aren’t these things all that musicians are required to do? Think about it!

Rylan Gleave’s before and since opened with piano then skeletal toned violin and tuned percussion. Rylan took us on a trip through all the instrumental sounds. I thought of a mezze in music laid out before our ears to enjoy.

John De Simone’s piece was called Ups and Downs. It was a world première. Long held notes on strings provided a kind of pedal above which the piano played rising single note motifs later changing to his notes played twice. Eventually the piano reached a plateau then began a descent. This was a simple idea simply performed, but then there was a second far more complex movement with the same idea led by solo violin against the larger ripieno of the ensemble. There was fabulous playing from Any Enemy in this greatly enriched movement.     

comments powered by Disqus