The Proms Chamber Music series
replaces the usual Monday lunchtime Wigmore Hall recital during the
summer season and this was the first of eight recitals, which end on
8th September. All concerts are returns only, and set in
the opulent surroundings of the Victoria and Albert Museum (in what
must be one of the most extraordinary walks to reach any concert hall)
they are a quintessential part of the main Proms concerts.
The first, given by the Galliard
Ensemble, was brilliantly played with sixteen of Ligeti’s short pieces
for woodwind ensemble bestriding music by Debussy and Britten whose
two works focused on one of this year’s themes – Greek mythology. Debussy’s
Syrinx, for solo flute, was sensitively played by Kathryn Thomas
with a gorgeously evocative landscape of sound enveloping the intimate
surroundings of the theatre. Followed immediately by Owen Dennis in
Britten’s Six Metamorphoses after Ovid the effect was highly
imaginative. Mr Dennis caught the subtleties of each of the pieces quite
beautifully and his highly virtuoso playing remained entirely at the
service of the music. If sometimes his breath control seemed a little
too intrusive there was no doubting that we were listening to a highly
musical, discriminatingly poetic player.
Hungarian dances by Farkas followed
– and despite the fact he was a teacher of Ligeti anyone of these pieces
could have come from a century or so earlier. Ligeti’s own Six Bagatelles
opened the recital, his Ten Pieces closed it, but in every sense
these are very disparate works. The former have an almost conservative
idiom, something which cannot readily be said of the Ten Pieces
which, in scale, remain miniatures but inhabit and very different soundscape.
Juxtaposing slow and fast movements they meander through the white noise
of a shrieking piccolo to the glutinous harmonies of a growling bassoon.
All were admirably played.
The second PCM recital is on 28th
July at 1pm and showcases Hélène Grimaud in piano music
by Corigliano, Beethoven and Bach (arr. Busoni).