Concorde

 

Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin

Judith RingMassimo DaviHugh BoyleErkki JokinenSungji Hong

This concert by the contemporary ensemble Concorde presented works by Finnish, Korean, Irish and Italian composers, including two Irish premieres and one world premiere.

All the composers were in attendance except Finland’s Erkki Jokinen, who missed Dermot Dunne’s intense and virtuosic account of his 1979 piece for solo accordion, Alone. By far the oldest piece in the programme, it remained fresh-sounding with its explosive energy, its passages combining utter madness on the one hand and a meditative cantus firmuson the other, and a mid-point hiatus that evoked the heat of summer with what sounded like the high-pitched buzz of a cicada.

For his 1996 Fluidifor solo flute, the Killarney-based Italian composer Massimo Davi was inspired by the fluidity and chemical instability of liquids as metaphors of human existence. His piece, receiving its Irish premiere, moves from initially narrow parameters and an impression of private meditation to a more open declamation – with emphatic trills, leaps and jumps, and a wider range – before dying back down again.

The remaining pieces involved some combination of flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano.

The world premiere of Into the Nightby the young Donegal-born Hugh Boyle called for the addition of voice in settings of two of his own poems. The nine-minute piece didn’t really live up to the promise of its interesting instrumental introduction. His unforgiving vocal line – featuring huge, ungainly leaps – mostly rendered the brave efforts of soprano Tine Verbeke to articulate the rather naive verse as unintelligible.

The other Irish work was Judith Ring’s 2009 . . . within an egg of space. . . for ensemble and tape, which Concorde commissioned and premiered earlier this year. Receiving that rare thing in new music, a deserved repeat performance, the piece instinctively blends live and pre-recorded instrumental sounds to create a still, inviting landscape in which events occur and pass.

The concert closed with the Irish premiere of the 2006 Shades of Raindropsby Korean composer Sungji Hong. Contrary to its title, suggesting pastels and impressionism, this was cool music whose opening high-pitched long notes returned periodically to punctuate outbursts of rhythmic energy and to effect seamless transitions between tranquillity and animation.