Contemporary Consort

King's Lynn Town Hall (King's Lynn Festival)

King's Lynn Town Hall (King's Lynn Festival)

No one can accuse the organisers of the King's Lynn Festival for putting on fusty old music after Wednesday night's selection performed by the Contemporary Consort - even if it didn't turn out quite as planned.

Young Canadian composer Adam Sherkin saw the world premiere of his Serpent-People Dances, music based on North American folk tales, alongside two other pieces he had composed.

All made the more interesting because the 25-year-old was interviewed by festival director Ambrose Miller in front of the audience before the performance began, offering an intriguing insight into his work and influences.


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His quartet, Toward a Royal Theme, came first - with a warning and the reason why the evening's music was going to be performed in not quite the same order as in the programme.

The piano had to be armed with bits of cardboard and rubber to distort some of its sounds, making it sound almost like a broken guitar.

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After de-rigging the piano we heard an enchanting performance of Malcolm Arnold's Fantasy for clarinet by consort founder Sarah Thurlow

before another solo performance of Sherkin's Sentinel(s) for flute,

offering unusual but not unheard before sounds from the wind instrument.

Machonchy's Fantasia for clarinet and piano was introduced as being played in the same year as the centenary anniversary of the composer's birth.

Sherkin's world premiere followed, which, although being the first time anyone has heard the piece, was played like it was a long time favourite of the group.

And the evening ended with John Ireland's pastoral Phantasy Piano Trio in A Minor, darting back nearly 100 years in time and style but also offering something that could be hummed in the car on the way home.

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