Review: Consortium 5; Unitarian Meeting House; Bury St Edmunds Festival; Thursday May 24 2012

There’s always that initial moment of concern when you hear a treble recorder being played, even by a professional; you just can’t help but link the sound to memories of primary school and that less-than-beautiful sound made by groups of small children blowing away merrily. After seconds of listening to the members of Consortium 5 play, however, we knew we were in safe hands.

In a well- chosen programme we heard a really interesting range of pieces, from the Renaissance right up to the present day, even including a world premiere. Despite one of their number being rather under the weather, this talented young female ensemble, who met when students together at the Royal Academy of Music, played with superb and consistent musicality, illustrating perfectly the versatility of the varied instruments in their collection, and of their own playing as they swapped instruments, playing position and leadership of the group.

The sixteenth and seventeenth century composers represented ranged from Byrd to less well-known names such as Clemens Tieme and Isaac Posch. Telemann and Bach made up the Baroque component, the latter composer’s large-scale ‘St Anne’ Prelude and Fugue (originally composed for the organ) being an unexpected delight. But for me, in the end, the contemporary pieces stole the show, their use of ‘extended playing techniques’ allowing a whole new world set of sounds to be produced from these ancient instruments.

Richard Lannoy’s Tangled Pipes composed in 2010 was a delightful short piece full of rhythmic interest, and the world premiere of From the Four Winds by Ewan Campbell (b.1983), who was present at the concert, was an inventive and entertaining evocation of different types of Scottish wind, its programmatic effect enhanced by the dramatic use of such techniques as cluster chords and glissandi.

Wynn Rees

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