Welsh Roundup

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					Welsh Roundup
Rian Evans at Presteigne and Glamorgan
         othing much happening at this time of     nor the direction to be fully                                          that seemed to achieve the
‘N       the year”, assume those for whom
concert-going is dictated by the seasons which
                                                   engaging.
                                                       Part of the charm of Prest-
                                                                                                                          greater sense of completeness.
                                                                                                                              If John Metcalf ’s Vale of
increasingly run from October to May, or June      eigne lies in what one might                                           Glamorgan festival was a more
if you’re lucky. But in Wales there are two        describe as the “composers’                                            contained affair than in prev-
festivals – the Vale of Glamorgan and Prest-       parley” element: the official                                          ious years, it had not lost the
eigne, each a shining beacon for championing       pre-concert discussions – enlight-                                     sharp focus that has made it
contemporary music – which take one from           ening in an amusing and mis-                                           such a definitive element in the
August into September and demand attendance.       chievous rather than overly                                            musical life of Wales. This year
    This year, Presteigne featured Joe Duddell     erudite way – continue inform-                        Arvo Pärt        highlighted the music of Polish
as its composer-in-residence, with Duddell         ally during the interval and                                           composers, with the concert
accumulating a loyal following by the final        then post-concert and it adds                                          given by the Silesian Quartet
concert, a mission accomplished for its tireless   to a feeling that composers, performers and            on 7 September at St Mary’s Church, Nolton,
director, George Vass. In the opening concert,     audience are part of a warm and easy con-              particularly memorable for their playing of the
on 21 August at St Andrew’s Church, Colin          tinuum. That was very much the atmosphere              second quartet of Penderecki. Wales was
Currie’s performance of Duddell’s percussion       of the closing concert of the festival on 26           represented in the festival in works by Guto
concerto, Snowblind, held the audience spell-      August, where George Vass’s work with the              Puw – David Cowley was the soloist in his
bound. By confining himself to using tuned         Presteigne Festival Orchestra also culminated          Oboe concerto – Hilary Tann and John Metcalf
percussion – marimba, vibraphone, crotales         in a carefully judged performance of Britten’s         himself, while Estonia was represented by Vox
and temple blocks – Duddell’s emphasis is less     Sinfonietta, Op 1. Finzi’s Dies Natalis sets the       Clamantis. This brilliant chorale featured the
on rhythm than on melody and harmony,              words of the metaphysical poet Thomas                  startlingly original soundscape of composer
unusual in percussion works. He created a          Traherne so closely associated with Hereford-          Helena Tulve, most notably in the piece silence/
definite aura of intimacy with the instruments,    shire, just the other side of the border. This         larmes in which the soloist was the Catalan
and the poise with which Currie judged the         performance featured the soprano Gillian               soprano Arianna Savall with the composer
effects of timbre and tone had its own mag-        Keith and, although there were moments                 herself creating
				
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