S&H Concert Review

Kantak. Philip Howard Small as dust. Lazkano Sorginkeriak. Erkoreka Bizitza. Guerrero Concierto da Cámera. De Pablo Dibujos. Torres Ceremonia Secreta. Purcell Room, November 23rd, 2000.

'Kantak' was formed as recently as summer 1998. Already they have performed at Spitalfields and the pre-Prom series at the Serpentine Gallery: their concert at the Purcell Room marked a further stage in the recognition of their talents.

Gabriel Erkoreka, one of the featured composers (and also Kantak's composer in association) planned the programme. Erkoreka has participated in masterclasses with such twentieth century gurus as Berio, Donatoni and Birtwistle. His dramatic 1998 setting of texts by Bernardo Atxaga, Bizitza (Life) showed a grasp of the theatrical. The mezzo Diana Moore (possessor of a powerful, contralto-ish lower register) negotiated the difficult, disjunct intervals of the vocal line with ease and projected the unexpected appearance of a quasi-folksong element convincingly. The performance was sung in Basque, a language whose percussive sounds suited Erkoreka's musical language well.

Erkoreka's piece closed a first half that also included the British premiere of Ramón Lazkano's Sorginkeriak and Howard's Small as dust. Howard's opener seemed retrospectively the odd man out of the concert. Fragmentary and ghost-like, its Spanish connection was ostensibly a piece by Granados in the background. Small as dust left no lasting impression, except to highlight the assured compositional technique of Lazkano's Sorginkeriak (receiving its British premiere). Lazkano gives his textures time to develop, the overlapping ostinati of the first section contrasting well with the more violent second section.

The music of Francisco Guerrero is crying out for recognition in this country. The Arditti Quartet, no less, has recently issued a disc of his seven Zayin (Almaviva DS-0127). The Concierto da Cámera was, according to the programme notes, 'in its time an international success' and it is easy to see why. This is music from the pen of an hispanic Xenakis, often percussive and uncompromising. The flute soloist in particular, Katherine Warren, excelled in the difficult solo part.

The manic streak of Guerrero (the highlight of the concert) was followed by Dibujos (Drawings) of Luis de Pablo, who celebrates his seventieth birthday this year. It provided a whispered, intimate interlude between the Guerrero and Torres' Ceremonia secreta (1999). Only 35 years old, Torres exhibits a maturity beyond his years. His musical language is overtly emotional, closer to Schoenberg than any other composer featured in the concert. He utilised the full ensemble of nine players to excellent effect, consistently refusing to overload textures.

A satisfying, thought-provoking concert for which the Kantak ensemble and their conductor André de Ridder can feel justifiably proud.


Colin Clarke

See also report on San Sebastian Festival
Profile of Luis de Pablo which includes details of the CD which includes Dibujos:Luís de Pablo by Peter Grahame Woolf - UK custodian of scores, cassette tapes and CDs of Luis de Pablo's music; available for consultation on request. Dibujos, Fragments from Kiu, Chamber Concerto etc. - ADDA 581260
See also review of Francisco GUERRERO Zayin Arditti String Quartet Almaviva DS 0127 66 49

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