Scot­tish En­sem­ble: Pause

The Scotsman - - Reviews - KEN WAL­TON

Glas­gow Science Cen­tre

WHAT a great idea, to present a mu­si­cal per­for­mance, in­ter­spersed with mus­ings by a cog­ni­tive neu­ro­sci­en­tist on how mu­sic acts on the brain, within in the steely geo­met­ric struc­ture of Glas­gow Science Cen­tre.

The mu­si­cians were the flex­i­ble, open-minded virtuosi of the Scot­tish En­sem­ble; the sci­en­tist, one Dr Guido Orgs; and the pro­gramme, de­vised by Scot­tish En­sem­ble vi­olin­ist Daniel Pioro, a fas­ci­nat­ing pot­pourri of ec­cen­tric styles and thought­ful in­trigue.

Orgs’ two short dis­courses were de­light­ful in their in­tel­lec­tual sim­plic­ity – ba­sic ques­tions, straight­for­ward an­swers. Around those and other com­ple­men­tary ver­bal con­sid­er­a­tions by di­rec­tor Jonathan Mor­ton and Pioro, the En­sem­ble’s per­for­mances were though-pro­vok­ing, at­mo­spheric and re­mark­ably de­cent-sound­ing for such an un­con­ven­tional venue.

At one end of the chronol­ogy was Biber’s thor­oughly quirky first Rosary Sonata and Han­del’s sil­very Sonata in D, both de­liv­ered with stylis­tic grace. Ev­ery­thing else was of more re­cent parent­age, from John Cage’ssem­i­nal 1950s state­ment on silence, 4’33”, to the re­flec­tive nos­tal­gia– Bach’s Pas­sion Cho­rale seeped in a wash of con­tem­po­rary haze – of Caro­line Shaw’s Punc­tum.

Pioro’s own en­thu­si­asms shone through, of­ten in feats of vi­o­lin­is­tic bril­liance. The re­lent­less en­ergy of Glass’ Knee Play 2 was elec­tri­fy­ing, and Pioro’s brace of ar­range­ments ex­plor­ing the “divine” – a stir­ring Raga and a sub­lime med­i­ta­tion on the an­cient hymn Veni Cre­ator Spir­i­tus – were de­li­cious mo­ments.

Pauline Oliv­eros’ 70 Chords for Terry was a fiery stim­u­lant forth es en ses, søren sen’ s shine you no more a daz­zling folk in­spired fi­nale. Much to think about, loads to en­joy.

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