Music review: Pierre-Laurent Aimard/Marco Stroppa/Samuel Favre

Edinburgh International Festival Scotsman review: Pierre-Laurent Aimard/Marco Stroppa/Samuel Favre at The Hub, reviewed by Susan Nickalls

The late-night concerts at The Hub are gaining a deserved reputation for intriguing repertoire. This one had the added attraction of an unscheduled interval to take in the Tattoo fireworks and pipe bands to avoid any intrusions. However, extraneous noise might not have been entirely out of place in Stockhausen’s 1959/60 groundbreaking Kontakte, his first composition to combine a pre-recorded electronic tape with live performance.

There was a theatrical element to the work, with the stage packed with a battery of instruments banged, hit and struck by percussionist Samuel Favre and Pierre-Laurent Aimard – also playing piano – while amidst the audience on electronics, Marco Stroppa realised the subtle nuances in Stockhausen’s extraordinary recording. This is music to experience rather than listen to, as ethereal sounds whisper behind your ear or whizz overhead like quasars.

Disconcertingly, the electronically generated sounds often mimicked the live instruments and vice versa, picking up the theme of imitation that pervades Messiaen’s piano solo Le Traquet Stapazin.

His bird-inspired music exists on a deeply spiritual plane, as in this work, where the busy day of a Black-eared Wheatear bird becomes something quite profound. The piece was exquisitely realised by Aimard, who conjured images of beguiling galaxies from the shards of jewel-encrusted chords. More please.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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