Bromsgrove Concerts admirably give platform space to uncommon chamber groups, New Noise being an unusual pairing of oboe and percussion, generating interest from an intrigued evening audience.
Successful workshops had previously been held in local schools by Janey Miller, introducing oboe, oboe d’amore and cor anglais; whilst partner Joby Burgess highlighted his array of fascinating percussion instruments.
Despite his best efforts Burgess was unable to inject conviction into the tedious claves/cow bells double taps in Birtwistle’s interminable Pulse Sampler. Full marks for the oboe’s clear articulation and masterly projection of a wide range of dynamic and pitch, but the promised twenty eight sections were not apparent.
Uncomfortably slow-speed vibraphone reverberations made for a somewhat obscuring accompaniment for some lovely haunting oboe phrasing in Howard Skempton’s commissioned work Random Girl.
Audience participation added a hummed drone to Adrian Lee’s Peace for Vayu, an Indian journey for oboe d’amore, tablas and tambourine. The sinuous upward patterns would have inspired many a cobra.
Thankfully there was no rushing to and from instrumental groups within compositions. Eerie bent cor anglais notes mixed with much underlying percussive repetition, as a set of tuned gongs acted as backbone for Holt’s Sphinx, contrasting greatly with Cage’s Japanese Ryoanji.
Here, the oboe soloist moved via eight widely-spaced music stands, playing glissandos over awkward intervals to depict specifically placed Zen garden rocks.
Repetitive simple reiterations from cowbells and log drum supposedly illustrated raked sand but became totally unconvincing as the tormented oboe continued her tedious journey around the concert hall on creaky floors.
Other works illustrated every percussionist’s multi-tasking expertise, but overall musical content was in question.
Top marks for skills, but inter- esting content was difficult to uphold.