Audience: HK Sinfonietta's 'Good Music'

A contrasting programme, rather hopefully titled ‘Living European Masters’… (correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Beethoven might have started de-composing a while back? Never gets old, that one…)

Slightly misleading title aside, it was a promising start to my newest (of several new) ventures, i.e. composition lessons with


Phil Tudor. He suggested HK Sinfonietta’s programme of Penderecki and Kurtag (Never heard of him? Me neither) might be a positive way to kick-start my creative juices in the compositional direction.

It was a show of two halves. A 4 minute violin / double bass duet (Penderecki) and a 7 minute violin solo (Kurtag. Romanian apparently. Lives in Bordeaux. Who knew?) were the ‘living’ section. Beethoven’s 1st String Quartet in F filled the ‘European’ part of the deal, I’m guessing?

Confession: I have avoided string quartets for almost my entire life (apart from the resident Lindsay String Quartet, who were occasionally sprung on us at Manchester University) so was slightly bemused to find him (Beethoven) and it (a string quartet) included in my ticket price. However, it was actually a fairly enjoyable experience (and I particularly enjoyed the playing of Violin 1, Cheung Man-yui Kitty). I honestly think I perhaps just wasn’t capable of ‘getting’ quartets earlier in my listening life and now I’m in my grown-up phase, perhaps I should give them another look? It’s food for thought at least.

Penderecki’s Duo Concertante for Violin and Double Bass (2010) was quite spell-binding. A brief conversation, with the occasional pauses and rant from each of them, that had me hooked. It was also a great reminder of how flipping bonkers playing the double bass is. That thing is a beast.

Kurtag’s Signs, Games and Messages (1961-2005) [now that’s what I call a long creative process!] consisted of 4 of the 24 very short pieces that make up this collection, intended to be performed in any order, in any number. Perhaps a great starting point for the some of the compositional exercises Phil has planned for me over the next few months? I may take a listen to the whole, strange thing and see what it throws up.

On the whole, every time I go to a concert that *shock!* *horror!* doesn’t include singing, I’m reminded how pleasant an experience it can be. I really will attempt to broaden my horizons and get with the non-verbal stuff. I will.

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