FRANK CLIFF John Innes Centre, Norwich


> John Innes Centre, Norwich

There were a number of empty seats for a recital of largely contemporary music by the wind quintet Harlequin.

In fact, though the programme was not entirely rewarding, it was the contemporary music, or some of it, which proved most interesting.

Ian Wilson's In Plato's Cave is part of a projected series of seven pieces entitled Unterwelt, whose style Wilson describes as “abstract musical thought”.

An attractive score, atmospheric and colourful, it provided an excellent foil to Justin Connolly's Canaries, a more substantial work which draws its inspiration from a 16th century dance of that name.

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The dotted rhythm of the dance pervades the outer two movements, which frame a more reflective slow movement.

Music of great rhythmic complexity with highly imaginative scoring which explores fully the potential of the wind sextet, it was consummately performed by Harlequin.

Most satisfactory was Michael Christie's Tales from the Commedia, a piece of music theatre which enabled the musicians to don funny hats and demonstrate their histrionic ability.

With dialogue of the “I say, I say, I say . . . what do you say?” variety it was difficult to know what sort of audience it was aimed at – not Saturday's, apparently, from whom it drew scarcely a titter.

A sensitively played arrangement of Mozart's Adagio K411, a humorous Mozartean realisation by Colin Matthews preceded the most satisfactory work of the evening, when Harlequin were joined by bass clarinettist Philip Edwards for an excellent performance of Janacek's wind sextet, Mladink.