Thursday 19 January 2012

Ades conducts Ades at The Barbican

On Sunday 15th January 2012 I marked my birthday by attending the London Symphony Orchestra's concert at The Barbican which featured Thomas Ades - conductor, Nicolas Hodges - piano and Toby Spence - tenor. This was a concert when Ades conducted Ades on a wonderful evening in the City of London.

I made my way from Norwich to London by train via Cambridge and after a tea of thai red curry, aubergine, butternut squash and oyster mushroom, jasmine rice with flat bread and mango pickle at The Barbical Foodhall I eagerly looked forward to the concert.

The programme consisted of Hidd'n Blue - Francisco Coll, In Seven Days for Piano and Orchestra - Thomas Ades, Selection from Des Knaben Wunderhorn - Mahler and Tevot - Thomas Ades. To mark the start of 2012, the year of the London Olympics the London Symphony Orchestra has chosen to feature British music and the work of living British composers.

This was the world premiere of a revised Hidd'n Blue from Francisco Coll who is a current pupil of Thomas Ades. The composer described his work as 3D music for a virtuoso orchestra of the 21st century. This was an exciting start to the programme with a piece that was full of colour and the union of opposites.

In Seven Days was originally conceived as a joint work in collaboration with film-maker and video artist Tal Rosner. Tonight it was performed by piano and orchestra without the visuals. The piece has seven movements reflecting the seven days of Biblical creation. On the first day God created heaven and earth, and light and darkness. By day four we have stars, the sun and the moon. On day seven we reach contemplation.

Between 1887 and 1901 Gustav Mahler set two dozen poems from Des Knaben Wunderhorn which translate to The Boy's Wonder Horn, a collection of folk-style verse by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano. Tonight we experienced a selection of these with tenor Toby Spence.

The concert concluded with Tevot which is another Thomas Ades composition. The Hebrew word tevot is the ordinary musical term for bars and can also mean words. It appears just twice in the Bible. For the ark built by Noah and for the reed basket made by Moses' mother to float him on the Nile.

The highlight of the concert for me was Tevot which gave us a magnificent uplifting sonic experience to crown a night of splendid music. The Barbican is a great place to be on your birthday especially with a programme of brilliant music. Thomas Ades and the London Symphony Orchestra are a winning combination.  

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