Ensemble ICC @ NCH

The craziness of the last month must really be taking it’s toll  – I arrived to the National Concert Hall an hour early for the performance by Ensemble ICC after getting the whole day wrong earlier in the week. I’ll be doubling concentration efforts from here on!

This evening’s performance was the first in a series taking place in the Kevin Barry Room in the NCH. The programme involved seven works by Irish composers ranging from purely acoustic works to electronics. I arrived just in time to catch the end of the pre-concert talk by composer Peter Moran (I seem to have had all the wrong information about this gig!) which was a huge shame because in the short 5 minutes I caught he spoke briefly about composer stimulus and the conversion of that stimulus into music and asked the question of the audience – What is the relevance of that stimulus once the music reaches the performance stage? Next time I’ll be there in time to catch the whole talk.

Nocturne by very young composer Ciaran Quirke was a light, constantly moving rhythm, broken by occasional tremolo. While the work was eloquently performed by the viola and cello duet of Cora Venus Lunny and Kate Ellis, it failed to reach Eliot’s “perfect climax all true lovers seek!””.

Lunny and Ellis are wonderful together and have worked on their duo in a variety of contexts over the past few years. Lunny is intense in performance and the perfect foil to Ellis’ calm poise behind the cello. Peter Moran’s Viola Sonata for solo viola pushed Lunny to her limits and proved her one of the most concentrated performers working in Ireland at the moment. The work was relentless,  almost ten minutes in length with only a short respite between movements for the performer; a furious double-stopped analysis of all the viola has to offer. The work was very different to any of Moran’s works I experienced previously but convincing nonetheless.

The work which stuck out for me was Alyson Barber’s Twists and Turns. The work is a beautiful study in the rich open strings and harmonics. Barber spoke about the work before hand and about the collaborative process involved in writing which involved working with a number of viola players and incorporating their feedback into the development of the work. This collaborative and attentive approach to writing seems to have worked exceptionally well for Barber in this instance.

The electronic works presented in this programme weren’t particularly convincing. This is particularly noticeable after the Spatial MC concert last month, although there seems to be some crossover between the members of the Irish Composers Collective and Spatial MC.

The next Ensemble  ICC performance in this series is 25 August in the Kevin Barry room of the NCH.

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About aisling

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