In allowing two younger, but already highly experienced musicians to be part of their group for a year, Ensemble Offspring are both giving to the future and also gaining from the energy and delight that these musicians bring to all they do.
This well-designed concert, exploring a mix of emerging Australian composers and two of Germany’s big names, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Matthias Pintscher, was the showpiece of the project. The core members of Ensemble Offspring (EO) Lamorna Nightingale (flutes), Jason Noble (clarinet) and Claire Edwardes (percussion), three performers with awesome talent and musicianship, stepped back to allow trumpeter Callum G’Froerer and saxophonist/composer Jeremy Rose to take the limelight.
G’Froerer was the early protagonist in what was the concert’s most powerful and intriguing work, Stockhausen’s Quitt for 3 players. Playing piccolo trumpet he was a perfect partner to Nightingale and Noble in a slow and inevitable microtonal ascension to the heavens. Impressive as he was in this work it was in the unaccompanied Shining Forth by Pintscher that G’Froerer stood out as a major new talent in the ‘new music’ scene. Shining Forth is a work that is neither easy to listen or indeed perform, but the soloist was a compelling advocate for this old-fashioned Germanic style of writing where the process is possibly even more important than the delivery of emotion. Still, it has intellectual credibility and that was observed and appreciated by the audience.
Jeremy Rose joined the other 4 players as performer in two works by Cor Fuhler, a Dutch born composer now residing in Sydney. These two quintets, Tinderbox and Empty Gizzards, neither overlong, left me wondering what this composer was trying to achieve as he handles some of his material well but does so in a way that is neither enlightening nor intriguing enough to hold the audience’s attention. Fuhler was however well served with committed performances. The musicians displayed a cornucopia of colours to enhance his music.
As composer, Rose presented a duo for trumpet and percussion, Rites, that drew heavily on the soundscapes of a certain style of soft jazz emanating from the USA in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It offered another opportunity for the featured performer, G’Froerer, to show his palette of jazz colours and he did so with effortless style. Again, Edwardes was the most perfect partner creating mini-worlds of supporting rhythmic and gestural events.
In a week when I went to concerts performed by our major orchestras it is this one that will linger longest in the memory for its excellence in performance, determination to be different and for the freshness that was evident to all.
The co-artistic directors of EO, Claire Edwardes and Damien Ricketson, have got the mix right and they and the other members of EO deserve as much applause as the two featured artists.
Ensemble Offspring: Hatched – Offspring Academy
Sydney Conservatorium of Music
30th October, 2014.