Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Proms at Cadogan Hall 8

This late-season chamber Prom was a tribute to composer Oliver Knussen who died last year. His music, along with that of contemporaries and younger colleagues, was performed by the newly-convened Knussen Chamber Orchestra, an elite collective of performers led by Ryan Wigglesworth.

I was in attendance principally to hear Alastair Putt's Halazuni, an older work in this composer's canon. Alastair writes

Halazuni takes its inspiration from arabesque decoration in Islamic art, and the patterns and lines therein. Such art juxtaposes the rigidity of an underlying 'tiling' with more florid elaboration, and I have attempted to represent this musically by establishing a rhythmically regular background texture, on which slower-moving, more flexible lines are overlaid.

In addition to pieces by Knussen, Birtwistle and Hans Abrahamsen there was a new work by Freya Waley-Cohen. Naiad is a short work, though to call it a miniature would be to do a disservice to its switching of pastoral perspectives, from the macro of leaf-dew to the wide angle of the open field at dawn. It's evocative and beautiful. The music was all terrifically performed and the Cadogan Hall well populated for a Monday lunchtime concert of contemporary music.