This concert at the Barber paid an affectionate farewell to the University’s music department lecturer Vic Hoyland, who retires later this year after many years of devoted service.
His work as teacher, facilitator and composer was well represented in this heart-warming event, the expert yet so unobtrusively efficient Diego Masson conducting the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, with which Hoyland has so frequently been closely involved, and the university’s own New Music Ensemble, greatly encouraged by the farewell boy.
In its sole offering here NME gave a stunning account of Germination for 15 Instruments by Matteo Malavasi, here in Birmingham to work with Hoyland within the department. This is a clearly-structured arch-shaped work, brimming with a well-imagined palette of sounds, and it breathes an Italianate warmth which Hoyland himself cultivates so much.
As indeed appeared in Hoyland’s own triptych Hey Presto!, portraits of three commedia dell’arte principals drawn with an astute sense of pace and shape, subtly-dovetailed timbres and well-patterned rhythms.
And rhythms and timbres, the three African drums – the sole instruments – including us in their own intimate conversation as they progressed through the stamina- and concentration-taxing Okho by the wonderful mathematician/architect/composer Iannis Xenakis, were at the heart of this undeniably sexy piece, performed here as if by a six-handed individual.
Two other works by Hoyland favourites completed the programme: Maderna’s cool, pointillistic Serenata per un Satellite, and movements from Stockhausen’s Tierkreis, surprisingly conservative in their lyricism, and immaculately delivered by cellist Ulrich Heinen and pianist Malcolm Wilson.
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