The Berkeley Ensemble may additionally owe its lineup of 8 – string quartet plus double bass, with clarinet, bassoon, and horn – to Schubert, who wrote his Octet for the one’s contraptions, but their championing of contemporary tune gives the institution its unique identity.
For this performance in St David’s Hall’s night-song collection, interest targeted generally on 3 new octets attributable to Berkeley’s collaboration with the music community Tŷ Cerda’s composer improvement initiative, Codi, whose initials play on the Welsh word which means to “upward thrust up”. Each piece handled the sound spectrum offered by means of the instruments in markedly different approaches. Carlijn Metselaar, a Dutch composer based totally in Wales, become involved to find approaches for her Octet’s voices to communicate with each other, its final quick duet among clarinet and viola suggesting a closing consensus of feeling. In Sarah Lianne Lewis’s Sunflowers in Autumn, strings and wind have been to begin with handled as fully disparate elements and, in the slow accretion of layers, it turned into the gamers’ quiet whistling that introduced an exciting extra texture before fading to an give up. Lynne Plowman’s Carbon Sky – its title taken from a Robert Desnos poem – deepened the color palette through having the clarinetist also play bass clarinet and the bassoonist double on contrabassoon. With protest as it’s subject, sturdy and percussive statements contrasting with greater lyrical fabric and transferring toward an assertive unison, Plowman unashamedly opted for effect.
The engaging presentation helped to preserve collectively the relaxation of the programme’s strange blend: Berio, Ross Clarke, Robin Haigh, Dorothy Howell, Stravinsky, Huw Watkins, and Grace Williams. Even in alphabetical order, though, the list appears so eclectic as to be random.