north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Red Note Ensemble, Woodend Barn, Banchory

Written by Alan Cooper, The Herald

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

article | The Herald


Red Note gave the closing concert of last year's Sound Festival, and so impressed were the organisers that the Ensemble was invited back for this year's opening concert - the first of a series billed as "the minimalist-inspired weekend".

Three pieces exploiting the basic minimalist idea of repetition proved that this particular tributary of contemporary repertoire can lead towards surprisingly varied results.

Gabriel Jackson's Doonies Hill Antiphon was the world premiere of a Red Note commission. More post-minimalist in its overt lyricism and varied string textures, it transcended mere repetition.

Rich chords, luscious string solos and sinuous duos, especially from the two splendid lead violins, suggested birdsong or even occasionally the ghost of Vaughan Williams. Red Note gave an equally fabulous performance stressing perfect precision in the John Adams classic Shaker Loops. Almost like fractals the repeated musical fragments produced kaleidoscopic changes in string texture. Red Note's playing built to an astonishing dramatic climax, drawing whoops of approval at the end from younger members of the audience.

Five short electro-acoustic compositions using material from the recording that is the foundation of Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet by Gavin Bryars explored this extraordinary musical phenomenon more deeply.

The ideas ranged from Suk-Jun Kim's piece. which stayed close to the original material, to Pete Stollery's clever Tramp, with wheezing, whose sound was transformed into pure tones backed by a single chord frozen from the orchestral accompaniment.

The piece itself worked a strange kind of magic as the instrumentalists gradually came onstage to colour in the pretty ropey singing of the old tramp transforming the recording into something intensely moving and ultimately quite beautiful.

Reproduced with permission of Herald & Times Group.

relevant events
  Date Day Time Location Event Details
20Wed 7.30 pmBanchoryRed Note Ensemble