I’m all for collaborative composition; new music works best when it is a partnership between performer and composer that allows both parties to communicate confidently and faithfully. Ignite gave a short but compelling recital as part of Wigmore Hall’s Aperitif Series on Tuesday 4 June 2013 that demonstrated how successful this collaborative work can be. Ignite are the resident ensemble for Wigmore Hall Learning and they do a series of projects working within a variety of community contexts. The ensemble of flute, clarinet, cello, double bass and vibraphone offered a colourful and engaging programme of new and recent works – all commissioned and developed by the ensemble – by a varied yet interesting group of composers. All the works performed began life as a one-page score of limited (yet limitless in potential) material that the ensemble develop into a performance. The first piece performed was a slight departure from the one page format; Kalavati (arranged in 2012 by Ignite) comes from a midnight raga sung to the ensemble by Amjad Ali Khan. A beautiful way to open the concert, with particularly striking playing from James Barralet (cello) that was truly evocative of Indian Classical music, with a strong and rich drone from Lucy Shaw (double bass). Improvisations came from all players, with particularly warm tone from Daniel Parkin (flute) and Vicky Wright (clarinet).
Param Vir’s World Filling Light (2012) followed and ensemble played two movements: Jewels in the Sky and World Filling Light. There was strong shape and direction in both movements, and so much colour was achieved through superb (and seemingly effortless) timbral, tonal and dynamic control from the whole ensemble. The rhythmical incisive passages in the second movement performed were a highlight for me, and the precision of the unison playing. Vicky Wright is a joy to watch performing as she responds to the music musically and physically.
The first of the two world premieres to complete the programme included two fragments from Kerry Andrew’s Woodwose (2013): a new community opera to receive its first performance on 19 July 2013 at Wigmore Hall. Ignite did much to bring the mystery to life in the material they had developed into the performance of ‘Forest Overture’ and ‘Winter to Spring’; the latter really captured the brittle chill of winter and the warmth to spring (wishful thinking in a British climate…). Martin Butler’s How Long (2013) ended the performance and it was simply superb; Colourful playing, rich harmonies, strong structure and evident enjoyment from the whole ensemble.
Look out for Ignite when they perform as part of Woodwose on 19th July at Wigmore Hall. They should not be missed!