The Quatuor Danel were back in Manchester last week with two composers, Henry Fourès and Catherine Seba, in tow. Their two concerts included Bruno Mantovani’s piano quintet, Blue girl with red wagon (with Richard Whalley on piano), Seba’s string quartet with tape, Quivering, Fourès playing Luc Ferrari’s À la recherche du rhythme perdu, for solo piano and tape, Schubert Quartet in G minor, D.173, Dvořák Piano Quintet in A, Op.81, (with David Fanning on piano) and the world premiere of Fourès’s quartet Méditations sur le scorpion. Fourès also gave a talk on Thursday afternoon, casually meandering through some of the projects he has worked on, emphasising his eclecticism. He has led various lives as composer, musicologist and civil servant, has most recently been director of the conservatoire in Lyon and came across as an engaging, positive and humble man. His music seems to exhibit craftsmanship and subtlety, while perhaps not finding a unique voice, and he is clearly versatile, having worked on everything from music for a rap-based street dance troupe in the 1990s to music for solo timbral tambourine.
It took a while to sink in, but Dogtooth (Κυνόδοντας), a Greek film that won the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes last year, is worth seeing if you can catch it at a cinema near you. It’s brutal and difficult, but also funny and painfully absurd. A Greek friend asserts that it casts a metaphorical light on Greek society, but whether you buy that or not the psychological pressure, which the stillness and tension of this film build up, offers a valuable experience in its own right.
Rehearsals are in full flow for this Friday’s performance by Raise Your Voice. There’s plenty of off-kilter rhythmic drive in the programme and the musicians have been working through the rhythms and metric modulations assiduously. Mostly I get to watch and listen, but I am performing a couple of works with electronics, Martin Suckling’s Passacaglie for cello and my own The Golden Lion Hotel for percussion. I’ve also been rehearsing with players for Sunday’s performance of my mini cello concerto Mikrokonzert: I Swear I Saw the Sun Falling at the York Spring Festival of New Music, which promises to be quite a day (if I survive the Great Manchester run in the morning).