Concert review

GEMINI at Goldsmiths Simon Limbrick (percussion) 27 October 1999

I have often directed readers' attention towards public music making in our colleges and universities and will continue to do so. This recital was featured in the spnm's New Notes, which is indispensable for people who want to keep in touch with new music in UK.

Gemini is the ensemble-in-residence at University of London's Goldsmiths College in South East London. Its percussionist Simon Limbrick is famous as a ubiquitous free lancer who pops up everywhere, and he is also a notably inventive composer, forever extending the potential of his ever-expanding collection of instruments. It was full house for his lunchtime recital, which will be repeated tomorrow at the University of Birmingham's Gardner Centre, and anyone within range who reads this should not miss the opportunity.

The presentation was "as formal as we get", which means not very, and Simon Limbrick talked about each item. Steven Kavanagh (a student at Bath) has 'no title yet' for his impressive exercise, which framed a gradual build up of pace and rhythm on marimba with portentous calls to attention on a big drum, gong and small bells at the beginning, the same rounding off the piece at the end. Very promising. Peter McGarr is a teacher who has his own very original ideas of what to do with the once humble steel drum. His eight pieces Sweet Steel Alone explored the possibilities for delicate sounds, based upon the pan's beautiful basic timbre and its unpredictable, sharp resonances. He used four mallets at once, fingers, beads and thimbles, voice and whistling. (In a previous commission, he had tried to get all the players of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to whistle, without evincing much enthusiasm for the task!) Simon Limbrick's own Wheelspin made good use of a dustbin lid and a collection of cans etc with a sampling box upon which he kneeled to release programmed vocal emissions.

Raul Tudon Toledo, a Mexican marimba player, provided an idiomatic piece for his instrument which encouraged an attempt at the world speed record; great fun. The recital ended with a classic virtuoso solo for maracas with electronics by the best known composer representd, Javier Alvarez's Temazcal. Amazing how many things can be done with a pair of gourds filled with dried seeds, and with what precision.

The pieces by Toledo and Alvarez are featured in Simon Limbrick's second CD - details and purchases direct from

Peter Grahame Woolf

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