On 20 July, 2012, I had the chance to attend one of the NonClassical concert series, at the V22 Summer Club in the vast V22 Halls of Bermondsey, South East London. NonClassical is direceted by Gabriel Prokofiev, who runs his record label in various clubs and venues throughout London, showcasing the best in cutting-edge contemporary classical music. The V22 Summer Club is a huge warehouse type of room (formerly a biscuit factory), with four equal measured pillars/columns in the centre of the space, giving ample dimensions and flexibility for performances. The concert featured works by three performers in rotation; cellist Peter Gregson, violinist Aisha Orazbayeva, and the recorder quintet Consortium5 (Orazbayeva and Consortium5 are artists-in-residence with the NonClassical Label). Besides the recorder quintet, all of the pieces (excluding the lyrical Vocal by Max Richter) featured solo instruments with multi-tracks recordings. The series made great use of the space and all pieces blended well in the venue.
Consortium 5’s unique ensemble included blends of haunting sounds and traditional music from the past, performing on the ‘Bassano’ concert recorders made by Adriana Breukink. Two movements (Skirls and Haar) from Ewan Campbell’s From the Four Winds were only performed. Skirls were sounds of high-pitched banshees of the furious winds, which made the movement seem tranquil in the distance. Haar was based on the mist from Eastern Scotland, exploring diverse textures in melodic counterpoint. Both of these movements conveyed the emotions associated with various sounds of the winds, making the performance more riveting in its space. Laurence Osborn’s Paperclips was a set of small inventions that can stand on its own or be combined in a complete “chain”. Paperclips offered a fascinating take of these sets of contained miniatures for a diverse type of ensemble such as Consortium 5. Other works performed by Consortium 5 was Chanterelle by Kathryn Butler and Anthony Holborne’s renaissance classic The Image of Melancholy, which was a fine complement to the contemporary works. In my opinion, Consortium 5 are one of those rare ensembles in the classical contemporary scene, as they dedicate our musical heritage of composers with upcoming artists who have a compelling voice.
Rising contemporary violinist Aisha Orazbayeva performed two works for violin with multi-tracks. A French composer known for works of the electronic and acousmatic nature, Bernard Parmegiani’s Violostries incorporated quarky sounds of cricket noises, morse codes against Orazbayeva’s improvisation in the foreground. Traces VIII by Argentina’s own Martin Matalon, eluded a Ligeti-type of atmosphere of light flautando notes with disjointed melodic fragments over a dramatic dark landscape. Moreover, Aisha performed both pieces with candid vigor and delicate sturdiness and zeal.
Finally, Peter Gregson’s remarkable performance of Prokovief’s Cello Multitracks was most likely the highlight of the concert. Written in four movements, Cello Multitracks featured sounds of haunted loops, waltzy and dreamy song-like textures, along with percussive techniques on the instrument, such as pizzicato guitar-like writing and sul Ponticello expressiveness against the multitracks. Cello Multitracks is a captivating piece of work, which will most likely have a solid future in solo repertoires performances. Although a slight disappointment with Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint being cancelled at the last minute, Peter Gregson gave a closing performance of Max Richter’s Vocals, a beautiful melodic and lyrical piece, somewhat influenced by Philip Glass, which is a complementary substitute for Reich’s piece.
Nonclassical’s concert at the V22 Summer Club was an enthralling event, as an alternative from its usual club atmosphere and the small concert halls around London. The concert was well attended, yet not overly crowded, which enabled the performances to thrive in such an intimate and artsy setting.
Brian Mark is an American composer currently living in London.