BBC SO/Oramo at the Barbican, and LCO/Brunt at St John-at-Hackney

12.14.15
Benjamin Beilman, Colin Currie
The Times

So the soloist, the incredible Colin Currie (who else?), skips on to the stage a few minutes into the music. He gradually works his way along a vast panoply of percussion spread across the platform front and exits at the other side just before the music dies. His deft choreography is entrancing but just a stepping-stone, literally, to the virtuosity he displays with his hands. For Norman’s piece, nearly 30 minutes long, is a continuous stream of nonstop arcade music, mostly frantically paced and luridly orchestrated. Swerving like a runaway rollercoaster, it requires the tightest coordination between soloist and orchestra (here the excellent BBC Symphony under Sakari Oramo). I loved this garish, gigantic playground of a piece.

If its placid passages of modal counterpoint evoked Vaughan Williams, so did Shades Lengthen, a beautiful new chamber violin concerto by Edmund Finnis. That was the centrepiece of a superb London Contemporary Orchestra concert in the incense-drenched cavern of St John-at-Hackney.

Commissioned by London Music Masters and the Borletti Trust and played with mesmerizing lyricism by Benjamin Beilman, the piece has an elegiac quality that reflects its title, with detunings and rich Tippettian counterpoint. 

Read the rest of the review here