Sometimes there’s no need to blow your own trumpet
Publicity can be misleading, as in the case of a fine trumpeter
The musical stance of the festival is equally open, all-embracing and experimental, with Irish and international calls for scores, improvised sound performances and music theatre. The concerts I attended included works for voice, cello and keyboard, a solo violin recital, a substantial piece for solo voice, and a harpsichord recital including electronics.
The call for scores yielded Derek Ball’s Aifreann Krishnamurphy for soprano, chamber organ and cello, setting an Irish language parody Mass by Gabriel Rosenstock, with obligatory audience participation – standing, kneeling, sitting on cue, just as in a Mass proper.
The idea is as black as you can get, with a communal Happy Birthday to You for Rabelais and the litany of implorations addressed to Big Bear, Black Elk, and Geronimo among others. Soprano Elizabeth Hilliard was the Bansagart, garbed in a silver-backed picnic rug, as detached in manner as many a celebrant, and with the music itself playing very much a background role to the ritual.
Hilliard also undertook Christopher Fox’s extremely demanding Catalogue Irraisoné, a substantial, wordy, multilingual piece related to his evening-long “installation piece” Everything You Need to Know. Hilliard is the first person to single- handedly take on this series of vocally virtuosic introductions to everything and anything. It’s what you might call a gob-stopper of an undertaking, which stretched Hilliard and her virtuosity to their limits, and sometimes beyond.
German violinist Barbara Lüneburg paired the ghostly Paganini echoes of Salvatore Sciarrino’s Capricci of 1976 with the monumentality of Bach’s Partita in D minor, sounding more at ease with the scampering of the Sciarrino than with the certainties of the Bach. Harpsichordist Yonit Kosovske presented a very personal recital – lots of direct connections with the chosen composers – which ended up with Ailís Ní Ríain’s 2 Steep 4 Sheep, wittily focusing on the possibility of deducing stress in sheep from the sound of their bleating.
Martin Baker, master of music at London’s Westminster Cathedral, was at St Michael’s Church, Dún Laoghaire, on Sunday for a performance of Bach’s great Art of Fugue – well, not the complete piece, but the bulk of it – with the unfinished Fuga a 3 soggetti done in a completion by Michael Ferguson.
It was the second not quite complete Art of Fugue I’ve heard this year, following on Angela Hewitt’s piano account at the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses festival in June. Baker’s was a heavy-duty account, full-on and rather airless, as this daunting music can be on the organ. Hugely impressive, if a little indigestible at times.
* This article was amended on Wednesday, August 14th. 2013