Tag Archives: Rachel Barton Pine

Violin virtuosi part 1 – The Rivered Earth and Earthen Grave

Posted by Liz

Today saw the start of the much-anticipated The Rivered Earth series of concerts featuring music by Alec Roth and libretti by Vikram Seth. Part 1, introduced by Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld and Seth, was a performance of Songs In Time Of War, written by Seth after the Chinese Tang Dynasty poet Du Fu. Lawrence Wiliford‘s voice was elegantly restrained and fitted with the violin, harp and guitar accompaniment of Philippe Honoré, Michelle Gott and Daniel Bolshoy. The set of 12 songs transported the spellbound audience to far away worlds. In particular I enjoyed the 4th and 8th songs, ‘A Fine Lady’ and ‘ The Old Cypress Tree at the Temple of Zhu-ge Liang’. Meanwhile, number 11 ‘Ballad of the Army Carts’ conjured up images from epic films such as Red Cliff. Roth’s music narrated along with the libretti, with effects such as ‘scratch’ violin to match the story.

Rivered Earth Part 2 featured Shared Ground and Ponticelli, each inspired by the Stuart poet George Herbert and for unaccompanied chorus and solo violin respectively. In the Ex Cathedra/Philippe Honoré recording, each work is played through, though it is possible to perform them as an interlocking sequence, which we heard today.

Seventeen Voyces, Larkin Singers and soloist Isaiah Bell provided a stellar performance, but in my mind the greatest plaudits go to Honoré for his performances. Heard alternately, each part of Ponticelli at least in some way referenced the preceding Shared Ground song. Ponticelli 1 ‘Flat Bridge’ and 3 ‘Arched Bridge’ had to my ears a fleeting similarity to some of the works of Icelandic indie-classical artist Ólafur Arnalds. The vocal settings had an almost song-like structure, with most verses having the title as a bridge/chorus.

From one super violinist to another, this time with a radically different sound: Rachel Barton Pine and her band Earthen Grave. Also a rather different setting – a metal band playing a church, albeit de-consecrated. Playing a set list predominantly from their current self-titled album, Earthen Grave executed a very professional performance and managed to engage the audience (which was mostly Music and Beyond passholders), although it did take a while mainly due to the type of venue and the relatively small crowd. There were a few of us up at the front, but compared to a more typical rock live music venue, it must have been weird for the 6 performers (including excellent stand-in drummer Chad Walls) to see people sat in pews! Some more concertgoers were standing for the final track, a rendition of Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave. The special violin Viper definitely added an extra timbre to their sound. Based on this performance, the band and album are highly recommended!

Both Honoré and Pine are performing tomorrow in The Rivered Earth Parts 3 and 4 and Paganini: The Complete Caprices.

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Music and Beyond 2012: Introducing…

Only a few days to go until Music and Beyond 2012 starts! I am Liz, your guest blogger for the duration of this year’s festival. With even more concerts than last year, 2012’s festival has a whole host of exciting events, many of them very different to the more typical chamber music concert. Here’s a small selection.

Following the musical fireworks of the Opening Gala, Music and Dance showcases the interplay of two art forms from Baroque to contemporary. Continuing the combination theme, the ensemble Tapestry showcase the relationship between text and music in Song of Songs: Come Into My Garden. Two events feature the music of the Cold War: the Beyond the Bomb event at the Diefenbunker museum and the tie-in showing of The Iron Curtain at the Bytowne Cinema. Representing string quartets and eagerly anticipated after their 2005 Shostakovich Quartets series, the three Borodin Quartet shows feature the complete quartets of Brahms and Tchaikovsky.

For me, the five concerts featuring Vikram Seth are both exciting and intriguing. The four-part series The Rivered Earth features Seth and Alec Roth, alongside other musicians, performing Seth’s libretti (also published as a book) on the themes of ‘Songs in Time of War’, ‘Shared Ground’, ‘The Traveller’ and ‘Seven Elements’. The fifth concert returns to Seth’s 1999 novel An Equal Music and music featured therein. Menahem Pressler‘s two concerts, with the NACO Principal Winds and with the Jupiter String Quartet promise some very high quality performances.

Finally – the must-see Heavy Metal Violin event featuring returning virtuoso violinist Rachel Barton Pine with her doom band Earthen Grave. Their self-titled new release features 10 songs which will certainly please any fan of classic heavy metal with a twist!

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