In concert – Black Mirrors / BCMG NEXT @ Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

pattar

Pattar La Nuit Remue (2002) (a), Acte (1999) (b), Miroir Noir III (2009) (c), Miroir Noir II (2009) (d)

BCMG:NEXT (a, b, c) (Rebecca Speller (flute, a), Emily Wilson (a), Heather Ryall (b) (clarinets), Raddon Stephenson (trombone, b), Maja Pluta (a), Olivia Jago (c) (violins), Cameron Howe (viola) (a, c); Rosie Spinks (cello) (a, c); Michaella Livadiotis (piano (a, b), (celesta) (c), Joe Howson (toy piano) (c) / Melvin Tay (a, c)

L’Instant Donné (d) (Mathieu Steffanus (clarinet), Saori Furukawa (violin), Elsa Balas (viola), Nicolas Carpentier (cello)

Recital Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham
Friday 25 Febuary 2022

Written by Richard Whitehouse

The second half of Birmingham Contemporary Music Group’s current season got off to an intriguing start with this collaboration between BCMG:NEXT and the Paris-based L’Instant Donné. All four of the pieces were by Frédéric Pattar (b1969), the Dijon-born composer who studied in Lyon with Gilbert Amy and who has worked extensively with this latter ensemble – building an extensive output over the past three decades which is audibly in the lineage of French post-war modernism, not least through its emphasis on timbral and colouristic facets.

Such qualities were uppermost in La Nuit Remue, a homage to surrealist poet Henri Michaux whose traversal from Boulezian fastidiousness to Lachenmann-like ‘concrète instrumentale’ was accomplished elegantly if anonymously. Melvin Tay drew a committed response from NEXT, who made a similarly fine impression with Acte. Inspired by a late poem of typically studied fatalism from Arthur Rimbaud, the interplay of its three wind instruments made for stark tonal contrasts such as were variously abetted and mediated by dextrous piano writing.

The remaining works were the latter two instalments from the trilogy Miroirs Noirs, each of which offered a striking take on its chamber format. In Miroir Noir III, the stealthy dialogue between string trio was pointedly offset by interjections from celesta and toy piano in a stern test of coordination the NEXT players met head-on. Members of L’Instant Donné then took the stage for Miroir Noir II, a more extended piece which teased out the possibilities of the ‘clarinet quartet’ with a keen sense of momentum sustained through to its deadpan ending.

A fine performance, then, from a group whose appearance this evening (as at the lunchtime recital in Symphony Hall) was made possible through Diaphonique, a funding body whose support is the more necessary in these post-Brexit times. Hopefully more of Pattar’s music will make its way to the UK (his Second String Quartet is well worth hearing on YouTube), but this collaboration was a worthy means of introducing it to Birmingham listeners in skilful and sympathetic performances.

Further information on BCMG events can be found at their website. To read an interview with Frédéric Pattar click here, while his biography can be found here). For more on L’Instant Donné click here, and for Diaphonique here