WORKS: Garbage Concerto
PERFORMER: Kroumata Percussion Ensemble; Singapore SO/Lan Shui
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1052
This interesting disc brings together two works from the murky world of classical/rock crossover, in laudably committed performances from the Singapore SO. But while one proves an entertaining addition to the percussion concerto repertoire, the other sadly fails to engage one’s interest.
Jan Järvlepp’s Garbage Concerto, for tin cans, glass jars, plastic bottles, hubcaps (and so on) and orchestra, sees Kroumata drawing an impressive range of tone colours from these bizarre objects. Particularly memorable are the haunting resonances of the blown bottles in the Concerto’s slow movement, while the work’s lively outer movements call for barrages of clattering noise which never fail to please the ear.
The stories behind Latvian rock and classical composer Imants Kalninš’s Rock Symphony deserve to be heard, but whether the same can be said for the music itself is another matter. Its drawn-out first movement is an orchestral version of a rock protest song by Kalninš’s band which, forbidden by the Soviet authorities in Latvia, Kalninš resurrected in a ‘classical’ context, while its last movement, a song cycle setting love poetry by the US writer Kelly Cherry, was originally only performed in an instrumental version, its English-language texts being unacceptable to the authorities. The work, then, is an act of protest, and its means of communication genuinely subversive. Nevertheless, there’s something about simple rock riffs writ large on an orchestral canvas that smacks of the worst excesses of the Eurovision Song Contest. I’m sure the tunes would fare better in their rock version. David Kettle