Demanding music performed at a stupendous tempo

Omega Ensemble at Ainslie Arts Centre. Photograph: Andrew Sikorski.

Music / “Ex Machina”, Omega Ensemble. At Ainslie Arts Centre, October 28. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

DURING a live performance of six complicated and technically demanding musical works, Omega Ensemble performed like a musical machine transferring at a stupendous tempo.

In its first efficiency in Canberra for 10 years, the gamers in Omega Ensemble have been David Rowden, clarinet and inventive director; Alexandra Osborne, violin; Peter Clark, violin; Neil Thompson, viola; Paul Stender, cello and Vatche Jambazian, piano.

Starting with “Aheym”, by the American composer of movie and live performance corridor music Bryce Dessner, this piece is a grand achievement for a string quartet. Driving extremely rhythmic patterns on all 4 devices blasts this music into life. A repetitive line quickly took over on the cello as others pizzicato. Agitated, evocative and carried out with sensational readability, it was trendy. highly effective music. With the three prime voice performers standing, this added to the pushing dynamic and extremely rhythmic type.

Missy Mazzoli’s “Harp and Altar”, is predicated on a 1930 assortment of poems celebrating the Brooklyn Bridge. Sounding like 4 particular person voices, the music slid via a posh soundscape. Partway via a human voice may very well be heard. A male singer, seemingly out of nowhere, sang a tune over the quartet; a recording, echoing the phrases of a poem. Then what may have been a choir entered, virtually swamping the quartet. When the gamers stopped, the choir light it out. Extremely unique.

In three actions, the world premiere of “Nervous Techniques”, by Grammy-nominated composer Chris Cerrone. Immersed in thick textures, it carried a dramatic influence all through. With clarinet added to the quartet, Cerrone’s pulsing music set out its heartbeat rhythm.

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Because the lead half went from cello to clarinet, that pulse beneath remained. This moved right into a swirling soto voce half for some strings, as others produced brief sliding crescendos with the clarinet echoing. This being the second half. The ultimate half moved in a brand new path, which was arduous to explain. Maybe extra impact than music, it nonetheless happy and entertained.

For string trio, clarinet and piano, “Zero Sum Recreation”, by Australian composer Alex Turley adopted. With a title sounding like a film or laptop sport, this might have been the soundtrack to a tense or chase scene. Abundantly ingenious sounds in brief dynamic bursts received the heartbeat racing. Inside, stunning music swelled out, accompanied by stunning enjoying. Extremely visible, ethereal, ever-changing however following a theme, it informed a moody and vibrant story.

With all six performers on stage, got here the world premiere of “Measured to Match”, by Nico Muhly. Omega commissioned it to push the ensemble to its limits. This stressed, staccato-filled piece, composed with freshness and vitality, made it probably the most thrilling work on this system.

That is well-thought-out music. It crossed moods and shades. Whereas virtually untouchable, it felt so alive. Together with the unimaginable enjoying, it was exhilarating.

For the ultimate work, Aaron Copland’s “Sextet”. As a symphony, gamers mentioned it was too troublesome to carry out. As a sextet, it didn’t sound any simpler. Copland’s sextet is as brilliant and demanding because it was in 1937 when composed. This compelling work has influenced many modern composers.

Even via its quieter moments, it doesn’t let up. It maintained its pressure via plaintive and average sections. At occasions, it screamed out ardour and heartache, after which, that trendy American sound. Mirrored on this music, the bustle of a brand new American life, which nonetheless sits nicely within the ear. Its orchestral qualities shone via.

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The string gamers tore via many hairs on their bows. Each participant raised a sweat on this electrical live performance. Extra please, and shortly.

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Ian Meikle, editor