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Review: Wilson's Causeway at the Ulster Hall, cutting edge but rewarding


New work: Composer Ian Wilson

New work: Composer Ian Wilson

New work: Composer Ian Wilson

Whatever the reason, it was a disappointing, but perhaps not disappointed, audience which attended the Ulster Orchestra concert in the Ulster Hall yesterday.

A new work by Ian Wilson, the orchestra's associate composer, was introduced by the man himself.

Although entitled Causeway, Wilson informed his audience that there was no narrative to the piece other than the natural, geographic setting, that the work could be judged, if that is the right word, in purely musical terms.

Throughout, however, sampled electro-acoustic sounds of what was the inferred noise of tectonic movement were triggered by the percussion as almost another percussive effect. The piece also highlighted four orchestral soloists which added specific, extra colour to the score.

It is difficult to know exactly what constitutes cutting edge classical music these days as the range and style is so diverse.

Wilson's new piece conformed with those conventions which rely on atonal, dynamically contrasting episodes, exploiting as many timbres, sonorities and arresting effects as possible in the orchestration but which did not reveal the forward direction of the music easily in one hearing.

This concert presented two other works under JoAnn Falletta's baton – Schumann's Rhenish Symphony and Scriabin's Piano Concerto.

The former turned out to be a surprisingly good performance, while in the latter, the soloist was the uniquely musical, thoughtful and thought-provoking, Russian pianist, Nikolai Demidenko who is always worth hearing – as was particularly the case in his unusually expansive reading of this fervently Romantic concerto.


Belfast Telegraph