Review: Michael Nyman & The Michael Nyman Band with Soprano Marie Angel, On Landguard Point: The Concert, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, Friday September 23

Michael Nyman & The Michael Nyman Band with Soprano Marie Angel, On Landguard Point: The Concert, Spa Pavilion, Felixstowe, Friday September 23

Michael Nyman is foremost a pianist and composer of film scores best known for The Piano. He produces passacaglian music using a few bars, chord progressions and often quickening tempo to bring insistently yearning pieces to a crescendo and abrupt halt. It is fitting Nyman styles his musicians a ‘band’ as the 10 performers are amplified and include a bass guitar player. The group use the power of the minimalist music to hook the audience in and take us higher or deeper. This is classical music for the rock concert – not the conservatoire.

The sell-out audience heard beautiful renditions of a number of Nyman’s early pieces – including the majestic Time Lapse, melancholic Miranda and resigned Fish Beach. Rather than conducting Nyman sits stage right at piano providing a uniquely percussive effect.

Post intermission brought the world premier of the score to On Landguard Point. The piece is entirely opera (Nyman’s favourite form) and time will tell if it works with film but as a concert piece it lacked. The first four pieces used stilted music to a barely discernible libretto – possibly an amplification issue? The fifth piece made up for all with the band and Marie Angel performing a wonderful piece of new opera; music and libretto working in tandem.

As an encore an extraordinary performance of Bird List (1980) with a new operatic flourish as Marie Angel’s spine tingling bird song soared above the music. A standing ovation erupted.


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Andrew Cann

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