Fjóla Evans and friends

Thursday’s concert in the Music in the Afternoon series at Walter Hall was curated by Canadian-Icelandic composer Fjóla Evans and had a distinctly Icelandic flavour (fortunately not fermented shark flavour).


There were a couple of Icelandic folk songs arranged by Fjóla and very nicely sung by Krista Kais-Prial.  There was one of the pieces from Anne Southam’s epic Glass Houses series (no. 14 in fact).  This was very well played by Talisa Blackman.  It’s interesting.  It’s inspired by Steve Reich and it’s one of those pieces that has a repetitive motif for ther left hand while the right hand plays phrases at a different tempo so that the two parts only occasionally align.  Quite good fun to listen to!

The Aizuri Quartet played Grieg’s String Quartet No.1 in G minor.  It’s a long and complex piece that covers a lot of ground including some interesting dance rhythms.  I like watching string quartets at work because it’s so much easier to see the communication going on and there was lots here.  The piece itself is full blooded Romanticism with a Nordic edge and really rather good.

The cello duo VC2 played the first Evans piece of the afternoon; Ridge and Furrow.  It’s a kind of meditation based on the remains of ancient patterns in English ploughland (or more normally ploughland that reverted to pasture before modern ploughing methods).  I could listen to more stuff like this and, in fact, we did because the second Evans piece was the world premiere of Moss; a piece inspired by dense moss growing over spiky Icelandic lava fields (see picture above).  This is acored for Styring Quintet and so the Aizuris were joined by Bryan Holt of VC2.  It’s another meditative piece with repeated phrases passed between the players to good effect.

In between the Evans pieces the other half of VC2, Amah Arulanandam, gave us Ligeti’s early Sonata for Solo Cello; a work that doesn’t sound at all “modern” to contemporary ears but was too radical for Soviet Era Hungary.  Actually it’s quite virtuosic and interesting but nothing like later Ligeti.  It was extremely well performed.

So, an interestingly varied concert showcasing Fjóla Evans music and some of the things that influenced it.  It’s the first time I’ve been able to make it to the Music in the Afternoon series and I’m glad I did.


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