London Sinfonietta: The story of a new era at Kings Place
What a nice evening! We were celebrating London Sinfonietta 50th anniversary with a informal conversation with David Atherton, Nicholas Snowman and John Constable, founders of the London Sinfonietta presented by Fiona Maddocks and a short concert showcasing composers and works from the early years of the Sinfonietta programmes.
The conversation was delightful. One hour full of stories and anecdotes about their early years, how they did things, how they had fun and how hard they worked championing contemporary music in context of the greatest works from the 20th century.
The concert was equally delightful: current members Karon Jones (flute), Timothy Lines (clarinet), Jonathan Morton (violin) and Tim Gill (cello) joined the only member remaining from the early days: pianist John Constable.
Schoenberg Phantasy for violin and piano represented the more raw twelve-tone music you can imagine. Webern Drei Kleine Stücke for cello and piano completed the Second Viennese School representation. Olivier Messiaen Le Merle Noir for flute and piano is the shortest work by Messiaen and had a wonderful performance by Jones. Maurice Ravel Piece en forme de habanera was the most melodic piece of the night, showing how the Sinfonietta can do it lyric and beauty. Harrison Birtwistle Verses was a work commissioned by the Sinfonietta, showing the pivotal role it did in new music creation. Edgard Varese Density 21.5 was the only solo piece performed (flute). The concert finished with 3 movements from The Soldiers Tale by Igor Stravinsky on his own arrangement for piano, violin and clarinet. I really love this work (it was my first live approach to Stravinsky).
Totally amazing. They all rocked!
Finally, about the venue as it was my first visit to The Kings Place. What a contrast with another chamber hall like the Wigmore Hall! It’s the total opposite in a lot of senses. While the Wigmore Hall is ancient the Kings Place is modern. While the Wigmore Hall has an old bar in the basement the Kings Place modern and cool restaurants & bars are the main space with the halls build around them. And while for Wigmore Hall the music is the most important thing at Kings Place Hall 2 the lighting system is so noisy, with a constant buzzing, that complicates the listening experience. You know, two different worlds.