For more than 20 years Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has provided an invaluable platform for the newest of music, promoting performances of works by cutting-edge composers both from home and abroad.
But it was so good last Sunday to hear a tiny BCMG (just two duos) perform music by two of the greats of the recent past, Stockhausen and Berio, and so charmingly and illuminatingly introduced by artist-in-association John Woolrich. Both pieces have domestic origins, so we had a visual backdrop of banners depicting a sketchy kitchen and some kind of word-ladder of the names of the two composers. No real problem there – the big one comes below.
Stockhausen’s zodiac-based Tierkreis emerged as just meltingly beautiful in Ulrich Heinen’s devised arrangement for himself on cello and pianist Malcolm Wilson. The rapport between these two veterans of the CBSO and so much else was empathetic beyond words.
As was the partnership of Alexandra Wood and Peter Campbell-Kelly in Berio’s Duetti for Two Violins, affectionate tributes to 34 friends either professional or personal. The eloquence and biting articulation from the pair was remarkable.
Now the problem – for some reason, visual (that was ok) and stage director Tim Hopkins seemed to think it was necessary to have the non-performing duo sitting around while their colleagues performed. This added nothing to the impact of the music, and the sight of Wilson wearing a chef’s apron staring at the walls, and Heinen tearing up the newspaper he’d been reading was risible.
Rating * * * *