Rubicon Gallery, Dublin
Donal Rafferty – Begin
Judith Ring – Whispering the turmoil down
Alyson Barber – Bóithre Bana/White Roads
Dave Flynn – Quirk No 7
This was the first in a new series of free concerts by contemporary music ensemble Concorde entitled Up Close with Music.
This is “close” both figuratively and literally: there is an implied intimacy with the music and there is also a very real physical closeness because the performing spaces chosen for the series – in this case the Rubicon Gallery on St Stephen’s Green – are all very small.
It opened with the premiere of Begin, a setting for soprano, flute, clarinet and cello by Donal Rafferty of Brendan Kennelly’s poem (which was read out but copies weren’t provided).
It’s a sweet, essentially tonal response to the text, with bright colouring from the four players, none of whom scarcely stops throughout.
Judith Ring’s Whispering the turmoil downseems to have found a rare spot in Concorde’s repertoire since they gave the premiere in 2007.
It’s the third time I’ve heard them play it, and I still enjoy the interplay between the lyrical line of the live bass clarinet and the magical but unplugged mimicry (electronics, gongs and bells) created and pre-recorded by soloist Paul Roe.
Again – especially since not all in the audience had Irish – it would have been nice to have copies and translations of Eoghan Ó Tuairisc’s text for Alyson Barber’s 2009 Bóithre Bana/White Roads. O’Leary’s introduction mentioned sunshine near Ballinasloe, and memory and distance.
Indeed there was the nostalgic evocation of an old radio in the breathy harmonics of cellist Martin Johnson’s accompaniment to soprano Tine Verbeke.
The concert’s second premiere was Quirk No. 7by Dave Flynn.
Subtitled “Slides, Cuts, Rolls and Crans”, it’s a duo for wooden flute and clarinet that infuses a contemporary idiom with Irish traditional music features.
The piece – with the players moving about the space – begins slowly and with gentle quarter-tone slides, then moves to quicker, more dancing tempos before returning to the reflective mood of the opening.