Ryan Davis and friends

To another excellent Confluence Concerts production last night at Heliconian Hall.  This one was curated by Confluence’s Young Artistic Associate Ryan Davis; composer, violist and electronic Wunderkind.  He was joined by a very talented group of young musicians; Kevin Ahfat (piano), Bora Kim (violin), Daniel Hamin Go (cello) and Jonelle Sills (soprano) plus the vocal talents of Confluence stalwart Suba Sankaran.  The programme was built around English and French romantic music plus Ryan’s own compositions influenced by that tradition.


First up was an arrangement of Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte arranged for piano and viola by Ryan.  It made a gentle melodic intro to things.  Next up were two works composed by Ryan under his alter ego Radiia.  The first, Colour You Like, involved Ryan on viola using live tape looping plus some percussive effects to build up successive layers until the result, still of course a one man performance, was a complex and many layered experience.  Blood Orange used similar techniques but added Suba singing text of her own composition in her inimitable style.  So, even more complexity.  I really enjoyed these two pieces.

Jonelle appeared for Frank Bridges’ Three Songs for Voice, Viola and Piano.  These set texts by Matthew Arnold, Heine and Shelley and I think one can see in them influences on Britten’s song writing.  It’s interesting how the addition of viola provides a much richer texture and with it additional challenges for the singer.  I don’t think these songs would work with a really light lyric voice but Jonelle’s rich sound made them sound very good indeed.

Then we got the one Davis-free piece.  A duet for violin and cello by Jean-Baptiste Bréval.  It’s an interesting piece; sort of like early Mozart, and beautifully played.  It was followed by an arrangement of Neil Young’s Old Man for violin, viola and cello and so to the break.

The second half was entirely given to Fauré’s reasonably well known Piano Quartet No.1 in C Minor.  It has a particularly lively scherzo which was played with some verve.  But, really, the whole piece was most enjoyable.  Following that “final” piece, the encore started out as Greensleeves in the Vaughan Williams arrangement but that morphed into the sort of thing one only hears at Confluence when Jonelle and Suba put in an appearance.  Very much a suitable send off for a really well thought out, beautifully performed and, dare I say it, fun show.

And in the further good news department the hall was pretty much full with plenty of younger folks as well as the older concert stalwarts.


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